There are laws in place that prohibit deceptive trade practices. If you have been accused of engaging in deceptive trade practices, it may be that a disgruntled competitor is fearful that they will lose customers to you and simply wishes to make a false accusation against you. While an accusation of deceptive trade practices does not necessarily mean that your business will face legal consequences, it is important that you consider how the law applies to your situation and the defenses you have at your disposal.
You should first make sure that you have a good understanding of the key elements of deceptive trade practices. If you can prove that these elements are not present in your case, you cannot be found guilty of engaging in deceptive trade practices.
The elements of deceptive trade practices
A wide variety of actions can be classed as deceptive trade practices. In general, engaging in deceptive trade practices means that you have misled or lied to your consumers through advertising messages or product promises. Types of deceptive trade practices are specifically addressed in the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
What are some examples of wrongful behavior as defined under the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act?
One common example that is prohibited under the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act is misrepresenting a product for sale as original or new when it is actually used, reconditioned or altered. Business owners have the duty to always be honest about the condition of goods they are selling.
Similarly, there must always be a correct representation of the source, certification, characteristics or sponsorship of a good that is being sold. For example, a food producer cannot make unproven claims about the health benefits of the food that they are selling. All claims must be backed by scientific and approved evidence.
Service providers or sellers of products should not falsely state that the purchase of a good or service is needed. For example, if you sell a car and falsely state that additional monthly insurance payments are required by law, you would be being untruthful and therefore engaging in deceptive trade practices.
If you have been accused of deceptive trade practices as a business owner, it is vital that you take swift action to defend yourself and the reputation of your business.