Insurance Policy Term ''Unfair Competition'' Definition

The policy term "unfair competition" refers to "a civil wrong that can support an award of damages." (Bank of the West v. Superior Court, supra, 2 Cal. 4th at p. 1265). For their unfair competition-trade dress contention, appellants rely upon Lebas Fashion Imports of USA, Inc. v. ITT Hartford Ins. Group (1996) 50 Cal. App. 4th 548, 564 [59 Cal. Rptr. 2d 36] (Lebas), a case involving policy language very different from that construed in Palmer (and that at issue here), and they point to that court's observation that "Trademark infringement is an act of unfair competition . . .; it amounts to the wrongful taking of another's identifying mark. In other words, trademark infringement involves a very specific kind of unfair competition." ( Id. at p. 564). Bank of the West v. Superior Court, supra, 2 Cal. 4th at page 1263 contains the following commentary: "The common law tort of unfair competition is generally thought to be synonymous with the act of 'passing off' one's goods as those of another. The tort developed as an equitable remedy against the wrongful exploitation of trade names and common law trademarks that were not otherwise entitled to legal protection. . . . According to some authorities, the tort also includes acts analogous to 'passing off,' such as the sale of confusingly similar products, by which a person exploits a competitor's reputation in the market. . . . ".