The freedom to pursue a livelihood, operate a business, and otherwise compete in the marketplace is essential to any free enterprise system. Competition creates incentives for businesses to earn customer loyalty by offering quality goods at reasonable prices. At the same time, competition can also inflict harm. The freedom to compete gives businesses the right to lure customers away from their competitors. When one business entices enough customers away from a competitor, the competitor may be forced to shut down its business or move to a different location.
The law of unfair competition will not penalize a business merely for being successful in the marketplace and will not subsidize a business for failing in the marketplace. Liability will not be imposed for aggressive, shrewd, or otherwise successful marketing tactics that are not deceptive, fraudulent, or dishonest. The law will assume, however, that for every dollar earned by one business, a dollar will be lost by a competitor. Accordingly, the law prohibits businesses from unfairly profiting at a rival’s expense. What constitutes an “unfair” trade practice varies according to the cause of action asserted in each case.