We recently published a post explaining how antitrust laws are not limited to protecting consumers, but may provide a remedy to small and mid-size businesses as well. Another piece of federal legislation, unknown to most of the general public, is specifically designed to help wronged companies in Northeast Florida and elsewhere. It is called the Lanham act, after its sponsor, a congressman from Texas who got the original version of the Act passed in 1946, at the end of his nearly 3 decades in the House.
The Lanham Act protects businesses against a panoply of anti-competitive behavior. Among them, businesses will find that they can, under some circumstances, claim a remedy for their competitors’ false advertising, bait-and-switch schemes, and more. The U.S. Supreme Court has just held (though it did not use that term) that the Lanham Act also covers a form of business defamation, at least so long as the statements uttered by the defendant harmed the plaintiff’s business interest. In other words, a false statement that hurts a business may be actionable under the Lanham Act.
(The Supreme Court case involved a manufacturer of office printers who was telling its customers they may be prohibited from using recycled ink cartridges. That was false and hurt the so-called cartridges “refurbishers,” who are now allowed to proceed in court.)
As I started with, the Lanham Act protects the integrity of competition in our free-enterprise system. It covers a multitude of wrongs. They are sometimes hard to prove, sometimes less so, but, critically, often unknown to both the offender and the wronged party until it is too late. For that reason, it is yet another area in which having a good attorney truly dedicated to your business can be well worth it.