Unfair and parasitic competition
If the principle is the freedom of competition, limits are imposed by the law as soon as actions are contrary to normal business practices. The law provides the means to put a stop to them and to obtain compensation for the damage. Unfair competition and parasitism are at the heart of Arénaire lawyers’ practice.
What is unfair competition and parasitism?
Unfair competition and parasitism are covered by common law tort liability (article 1240 of the French Civil Code). It is characterised by the combination of three criteria:
- a wrongful conduct,
- a damage suffered, and
- a causal link between the conduct and the damage.
In practice, this can take the form of maintaining confusion in the mind of the public and diverting customers from a competitor.
Parasitism refers to the behaviour of a parasite (as the name suggests). It takes the form of following in the footsteps of a competitor in order to take undue advantage of its investments and reputation without bearing the costs. It is not necessarily a direct competitor, but the parasite takes advantage of the investments, image, and reputation of another economic operator to develop its business. The actions of the parasite cause a commercial disturbance and distort the normal play of the market.
The most frequent unfair or parasitic acts are denigration, copying of a product or its packaging, violation of business secrecy, massive poaching of a competitor’s employees, copying of a visual identity, a graphic charter, a positioning, etc.
The resulting damage is often a drop in turnover, loss of customers, loss of earnings, disorganisation of the company, moral damage (tarnished image), etc.
Arénaire Avocats: expert lawyers in unfair competition and parasitism
Legal counsel on how to respect healthy competition
When developing a new product or a new visual identity, it is recommended to legally validate your projects beforehand, in order to reduce the risks of future litigation. Packaging, graphic charter, website, advertising campaign: we examine your plans in the light of the law and your competitors. Our analysis of the risks, benefits and your objectives allows you to launch your projects in an informed manner.
Assisting you in pre-litigation and litigation
Acts of unfair competition or parasitic competition are sometimes accompanied by acts of trademark, design, patent, or copyright infringement. But they can also be committed in isolation. Whatever the situation, and whether you are at the origin of the dispute or are subjected to it, we assist and represent you in all stages of your disputes:
- Safeguarding evidence of unfair behaviour: purchase or internet reports by bailiffs, pre-trial investigation measures (article 145 of the French Code of Civil Procedure).
- Cease and desist letters.
- Negotiations and attempts at amicable settlement.
- Summary proceedings or proceedings on request in urgent or obvious cases, with provisional prohibition measures or investigative measures.
- Unfair competition and parasite action before the competent court.
- Application combined with an action for infringement before the Court of Justice.
- Assessment of the damage suffered.
- Enforcement of decisions until compensation is obtained.
The lawyers at Arénaire Avocats have extensive experience in unfair competition and parasite litigation.
Lawyers in unfair and parasitic competition: a necessity in all sectors of activity
No sector of activity escapes the risk of unfair or parasitic competition. We act for many clients, both in advice and in litigation, in a wide variety of fields:
- Legal counselling and representing a world leading pharmaceutical company in matters of unfair and parasitic competition.
- Legal counsel and representation of one of the main players in the decoration and furnishing sector in Europe in the context of several unfair competition and parasite actions against major retailers in France.
- Legal counsel and representation of a leading ready-to-wear clothing company in the Indian Ocean economic zone in an action for unfair and parasitic competition against a competitor group established in several countries in this zone.
- Legal counselling and representing a leading French SME in the field of designer bathroom furniture in pre-litigation and unfair competition proceedings.
- Legal counselling and representing an SME specialising in the creation of costume jewellery in a dispute with a major European distribution group.
- Legal counsel and representation of a company following acts of unfair competition committed by its former president.
If you wish to secure your projects with regard to competition law, or if you need the assistance of a lawyer in an unfair competition or parasite litigation, contact us. We can discuss your issues and determine the best way to assist you.