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False Advertising Under the Lanham Act

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2017 | Business Litigation |

Everyone knows that a strong marketing campaign is an essential part of growing a business and informing the public about the various qualities of a product or service that they provide. While some people may embellish the qualities of their products in some way, there is a line between this and false advertising.

Some companies may believe that one or more of their competitors is guilty of false advertising under the Lanham Act. At its most basic, this law protects businesses from having misleading advertising used against them by their competitors. It is an intricate law and thus it is generally important to discuss any potential accusations and applications of it with an experienced business law attorney. 

The Language Written in the Lanham Act

The Lanham Act is chiefly referred to for questions about trademarks and infringement; however, the Lanham Act also contains a section called 43(a) that discusses false advertising. The act specifies the use of names, words, symbols, or devices in a false or misleading way to constitute false advertising. This includes work that may cause deception or confusion among the potential audience or any advertising that misrepresents the nature of qualities of a product or service.

Any entity that advertises in this manner is subject to a civil action by any person who believes that he or she was harmed by this false advertising. This language is broad and could encompass any number of possible false advertising claims.

Essential Components to Success of a False Advertising Lawsuit Under the Lanham Act

There are a few criteria that a plaintiff filing a lawsuit under the Lanham Act for false advertising needs to meet for a successful outcome. The plaintiff needs to successfully demonstrate that there was either a false or a misleading statement that was used in an advertising campaign. Then, this false statement must be proven that it deceived the plaintiff in a way that led to harm.

Furthermore, this advertising campaign needs to encompass interstate commerce. While these elements might appear to be straightforward, many of these terms are subjective and will require a strong legal argument.

False Versus Misleading

There are two different types of statements or advertising campaigns that can be included under the Lanham Act. The first is an objectively false statement. These are generally easier to prove because if they are indeed false then there should be a true statement that is objectively different than the false one that was made.

A misleading statement is a little tougher to prove because this is more subjective. In order to prove that a statement was misleading, the plaintiff must have an effective legal argument backed up with strong evidence.

This is only a brief overview of the language of the Lanham Act. In reality, trying to prove a claim of false advertising can be a significant challenge in need of legal guidance. That is why anyone who has any questions about false advertising or a potential legal dispute should contact an experienced business law attorney for assistance.

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