Consumer Trust & The Lanham Act (Part 6), by Khalid Farwana

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      Khalid Farwana
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      Section 43(a) of The Lanham Act punishes the abuses of comparative advertising pertinent to false advertising. Deceptive claims can harm the reputation and business operations of a company and cause confusion to customers. Despite comparative advertising being encouraged by the Federal Trade Commission as a step towards helping consumers, abuses during comparisons impacted many businesses and customers. Conclusively, it led to the passing of the Lanham Act as a way of dealing with such abuses. Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act has evolved to become the established choice for advertising litigants as it allows some recourse toward monetary rewards, corrective advertising, injunctions and prefaces; including recovering profits, actual damages, and the costs of action. The scope of the Lanham Act has increased over the years because courts continue to broaden its application in advertising cases. Its expansion is expected to continue as complainants of comparative advertising abuses turn to the federal courts for amends. The continued evolution of the Lanham Act, especially section 43(a), filled in the gaps left by the Federal Trade Commission when it comes to handling comparative advertising abuses. Past developments have expanded relief for affected parties of false advertising, even though the injunction remains to be the popular remedy under section 43(a) of the regulatory scheme. The use of the injunction fulfils the aim of plaintiffs in stopping offensive advertisements from airing and ensuring minimal damage. For businesses, complying with the provisions of the Lanham Act means avoiding false or deceptive advertising, following the policy of truth and ensuring that every bit of information used is precise and verifiable, especially if it mentions the competition. Failure to comply with the provisions of the regulatory scheme means that a business can face lawsuits from either competing businesses or affected consumers.

      In my opinion, the continued evolution of the Lanham Act as a regulatory arrangement against false advertising has helped to correct the inefficiencies of the Federal Trade Commission, especially related to the concept of comparative advertising. Accountability was developed and implemented through this scheme.  The Lanham Act has strengthened both the FTC and existing federal laws relating to false advertisements and trademark infringements when presenting the products and services of a company. However, I do think that more is needed to be done to protect both businesses and consumers against comparative advertising abuses and their impacts. Even though advertisements are critical components of a thriving company, the federally established regulations and laws must be able to hold businesses accountable to what can be said during the advertising process.Additionaly, The Lanham Act aided both individual businesses and consumers by protecting them against false advertisements and deceptive claims regarding the qualities of certain products and services when compared to those of other businesses.  The effectiveness of the Lanham Act ensures that businesses cannot make false claims or misrepresent their products. Such a federal law can help streamline the advertising industry and ensures that businesses only present the truth for consumers to avoid confusion and possible harmful effects, in case the product is of low quality or contains harmful components. Consumer trust is vital.

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