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Unfair business. what are the main causes of action in CA when a competitor is unethically harming my biz, misleading my clients

Los Angeles, CA |

Basically, a competitor is stealing my business through hijacking my ads and other unethical means. If I were to sue him, what causes of action would be likely filed? Punitive damages available?

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Attorney answers 3


Your facts are very sparse ("hijacking your ads) but the following would be available among others: injuncitive relief under Business and Professions code 17200, interference with prospective buisness advantage, (if for existing clients) interference with contract. Business torts do hav the availablitity of punitive damages. You need experiencd legal counsel, this is not do it yourself law.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advise" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.


Generally, when a defendant acts deliberately and with malice towards another, it usually gives rise to a cause of action that allows for punitive damages. But, the amount of punitive damages available is dependent upon defendant's ability to actually pay those damages.

As a reminder, if your business is a corporation, it cannot represent itself in court other than small claims. So, you will need an attorney for this. Do not worry too much about the causes of action that an attorney can name. As has been pointed out by my colleague already, you have a variety of claims available, with the possibility of punitive damages. The most important of which, depending upon the rest of your facts, is injunctive relief -- i.e., filing a lawsuit and immediately asking the court to stop him from what he is doing through a temporary restraining order and prelim injunction. That is very difficult for a person to do on their own. Please seek counsel and spend enough time with that person so that the attorney can fully understand the facts of your particular matter. Best of luck.


If you are an entity such as a corporation or LLC, you must be represented by counsel in any litigation.

Common business torts include intentional interference with contract, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, misappropriation of trade secrets, ntellectual property infringement, and business disparagement, unfair competition under California Business and Professions code 17200 and false advertising under California Business and Professions code 17500.

Yes, punitive damages are possible for egregious acts.

Frank W. Chen is licensed to practice law in the State of California. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.