What is unlawful competition?
Experts at FSP Business say unlawful competition is any unlawful act aimed at harming or gaining a competitive advantage over your business rival. This includes many well-established wrongs such as murder or arson.
The good news is South African laws prohibit unlawful competition.
But what if your rival copies or uses your unregistered idea? Will this be seen as unlawful competition?
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The answer is a resounding no.
It's not unlawful competition if your rival copies or uses your unregistered idea
The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service says that in the absence of statutory protection, it isn't normally unlawful for a rival to copy and make use of your published ideas and concepts, even if you've spent a great deal of time and money in building up a demand for your product.
Once published, the information or idea is in the public domain and the fact that you haven't protected your ideas by registration opens the field to competition by copying and imitation, which is regarded as quite legitimate.
This means your rivals is free to use your ideas for their own business purposes. They can even make exact copies of your product and sell them under their brand name!
Bottom line: You must register your invention, design or trade mark immediately to stop competitors from copying your product
The Loose Leaf Service urges you NOT to allow your good business ideas to become public knowledge without first making sure they'll be protected under the relevant statute.