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Unfair competition can refer to any of various distinct areas of law which may give rise to distinct criminal offenses and civil claims:
- Matters pertaining to antitrust laws
- Unfair business practices such as fraud, misrepresentation, tortious interference with existing contractual relationship, tortious interference with prospective business relationship, and unconscionable contracts and business practices.
- Trademark infringement and passing off. In the United States, this form of unfair competition is governed by the Lanham Act.
- Misappropriation of trade secrets. In the United States, this type of activity is prohibited by the Uniform Trade Secrets Act and the Economic Espionage Act of 1996.
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