Unfair Competition

While not a common claim, “unfair competition” is a lawsuit and claim that may be brought in Missouri. “Unfair competition is a species of commercial hiking…[i]t aims to effect honesty among competitors by outlawing all attempts to trade on another’s reputation…it strives to protect the buying public from deception.” Better Business Bureau, etc. v Chappell, 307 S.W.2d 510 (Mo. Ct. App. 1957).

Missouri cases on the subject generally relate to passing off one’s services as that of another and/or unfairly riding on the good will of another business. National Motor Club of Mo., Inc. v. Noe, 475 S.W.2d 16, 19-20 (Mo. 1972) (unfair competition consists of passing off or attempting to pass of the business of one as the business of another); Soft-Lite Lens Co. v. Optical Service Co., 133 S.W.2d 1078, 1082 (Mo. Ct. App. 1939) (unfair competition consists of passing off or attempting to pass of goods or services of one as the goods or services of another); Joseph S. Baum Mercantile Co. v. Levin, 174 S.W.442, 444-45 (Mo. Ct. App. 1915) (conduct deceptive to the public as to the source of goods or business constitutes actionable unfair competition); American Equity Mortg., Inc. v. Vinson, 371 S.W.3d 62 (Mo. Ct. App. 2012) (attempts to “pass off” one’s services as that of another as well as utilizing another’s “distinctive marketing” may give rise to unfair competition).

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