Federal Unfair Competition Claim
Though “unfair competition” is typically a state law claim, there is a federal cause of action for unfair competition.
15 U.S.C. § 1125 protects against “false designation of origin,” which is commonly referred to as a federal cause of action for unfair competition. Cae, Inc. v. Clean Air Engineering, Inc., 267 F.3d 660, 672-73 (7th Cir. 2001). To prevail on this claim, a plaintiff must show a (1) a protectable mark, (2) that defendant has, in connection with goods or services in commerce, made a “false designation of origin” or “misleading description of fact,” (3) and there is a likelihood of confusion. 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)(1). Notably, this claim does not require that the plaintiff hold a registered trademark. It may be based on an unregistered, common law mark.