Billboard Law: Unfair Competition

Unfair competition is a deceptive or wrongful business practice. In California, any illegal act may constitute unfair competition. To constitute “unfair” competition, an act must be inherently wrongful.

Simply offering a product at a lower price, or offering to pay higher rent is normal competition. There is nothing “unfair” about that. On the other hand, offering a product at a price that loses money on every transaction may be unlawful. Inducing a lessor to break a competitor’s lease may be unlawful and constitute unfair competition.

In general, using wrongful or deceptive business practices to gain a competitive advantage will constitute unfair competition. Here are some specific examples of unfair competition.

  • False Advertising or Representation of Products or Services
  • “Bait and Switch” tactics
  • Trade Libel
  • Threats, and intimidation
  • Boycotting to effect any violation of the law
  • Collusion to violate the unfair competition law
  • Counterfeiting or imitation
  • Any violation of law.


If you are damaged by unfair competition, you may recover actual and punitive damages. You may be able to force the violator to give up any profit realized by the unfair competition. You may be able to get a court order requiring the person to stop the unlawful practice. (You may bring an unfair competition claim only if you or your business actually suffers damages. Otherwise only the attorney general or certain city attorneys have the right to file such an action.)

At Hamlin | Cody, we can help you recover damages suffered due to a competitor’s illegal or unfair practices. Sometimes, businesses use threats of an unfair competition lawsuit to extort concessions. We can also defend you if you are accused of unfair competition.

Sometimes, a dispute can be resolved by the parties speaking directly with each other. Sometimes, it is difficult to do so. We offer our “good offices” to help parties resolve differences through mediation. Mediation can both solve problems less expensively than litigation and preserve relationships. We have extensive experience with billboard, real estate and business issues.

Unfair competition is extremely frustrating when you are trying to earnestly run your business and advertise effectively. When you put time, money, and effort into your advertisement, it is discouraging to see when others are engaging in poor business practices.


We Are Here to Help

At Hamlin | Cody, we help both billboard owners as well as landowners and business owners to ensure their rights are being protected. We work with our clients to resolve conflicts, regardless of how large or small. If you are concerned about unfair competition, we will take the time to understand your situation and guide you through the legal action that you explore. We use insight, logic and reasoning to resolve unfair competition disputes, as well as any other disputes when they arise.