Unfair competition is very similar to trademark and service mark infringement. It is unfair competition to imitate signs, store fronts, advertisements, and the packaging of goods of a competitor. The essence of an unfair competition claim is that one business has done something that confuses the public about another business’s product in a way that is so improper that a court needs to stop it or award damages to protect the commercial market.
The actor, director, and writer Woody Allen was involved in an interesting unfair competition case in the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1985. Mr. Allen sued a look-alike and others because of an advertisement for video-rental stores using an actor that looked like him who was filmed renting videos from one of the defendants. The court found in favor of Mr. Allen on the theory that the public might well think that the picture was of Woody Allen, or that Woody Allen was in some way endorsing the product.