Unfair competition

Competition can be tough, sometimes even dishonest. Some companies will not hesitate to engage in abusive behaviour to attract other companies’ customers. The victimised companies can then take action for unfair competition. Depending on the situation, it will be essential to think about protecting and defending their rights through this action.

1) Definition of unfair competition

Free competition is valid as long as professionals do not use unfair methods, i.e., contrary to professional practices and that harm their competitors. This is known as unfair competition. This is known as unfair competition.

It is an abusive commercial practice by one company against another which harms competition.

Unfair competition law comes into play in the absence of private intellectual property rights (of which the preferred action is the infringement action). Unfair competition law comes into play in the absence of private intellectual property rights (of which the preferred action is the infringement action).

To prove unfair competition, it is necessary to be able to satisfy three cumulative conditions:

  • A fault: an intentional act that aims to harm or an unintentional act (such as failure to comply with a regulation);
  • A damage: it must be certain (not presumed or alleged) and directly suffered by the company targeted by the acts (Example: loss of turnover, damage to the image and reputation of the company…);
  • A casual link between the fault and the damage.

The proof of an unfair competition act is made by a bailiff’s report. If there is a suspicion of abusive behaviour, a company may ask the judge for authorisation to refer the matter to a bailiff to establish evidence of unfair behaviour to take legal action later or not.

Unfair competition is a concept that comes from case law, i.e., from judges, and is derived from civil liability. The sanction is therefore civil and consists of:

  • The award of damages;
  • Measures to put an end to the conduct;
  • Obtaining ancillary measures (publication of the court decision, destruction of the equipment used for the unfair competition, etc.).


2) The various methods of unfair competition

Unfair competition can be divided into 4 main methods:

  • Imitation:

This is the use of the same distinctive signs (sign, trademark, company name, trade name, advertising, etc.) of another competing company, creating confusion in the mind of the consumer.

  • Denigration:

This means openly and publicly criticising the products, services, work, and methods of a competitor in a targeted manner.

  • Disorganisation:

Disorganisation can take many forms, for example: massive and abusive poaching of another company’s employees, misappropriation of customers, spying, damage, revealing secrets…

  • Parasitism:

This is the practice of taking advantage of the efforts, investments, and reputation of another company without participating in the investments and efforts. There is no need to demonstrate a competitive relationship for this practice.

3) How to anticipate these situations with the Copyright.eu service?

The Copyright.eu certificate of anteriority enables you to prove that your creations existed at a certain date and that you are the author. This type of proof is useful in anticipating unfair competition:

  • By imitation, in the event of reproduction of identifying elements not protected by intellectual property law (for example, a shop concept);
  • By parasitism, to demonstrate the efforts made;
  • By disorganisation in case of revelation of a secret, to prove the prior possession of the secret.

For these cases, it is essential to obtain proof of anteriority to prove that you are the owner of the misappropriated elements at a certain date. This makes it easier to assert your rights in the event of infringement or of a challenge by a competitor.

Indeed, obtaining a Copyright.eu anteriority certificate will prove to be:

  • Dissuasive with regard to future partners/competitors, in addition to the contractualisation of relations;
  • Advantageous in the event of litigation for breach of confidentiality or the event of unfair competition, as it constitutes an element of proof.

The Copyright.eu anteriority certificate provides indisputable proof of anteriority, through the intervention of a Bailiff (depending on the offer selected), but also through the qualified electronic timestamp which has evidential value, including internationally.

To apply for a Copyright.eu anteriority certificate, the process can be completed online. Please visit the following address: https://www.copyright.eu/depot-copyright-en-ligne/fonctionnement/