Consumer protection law has special relevance to antitrust practitioners. The most influential single authority on consumer protection, the Federal Trade Commission, is also a prominent feature of the antitrust landscape. In recent years, there has been increasing cooperation and cross-pollination between the FTC's Competition and Consumer Protection Bureaus. In addition, the statutes that govern antitrust and consumer protection are intertwined -- not only the FTC but also the numerous state laws that combine "unfair competition" claims (often cognizable as antitrust violations) with unfair and deceptive acts and practices. Not surprisingly, then, complaints by aggrieved competitors often allege both antitrust and consumer protection causes of action.
For legal practitioners who are nonspecialists in consumer protection law, such as the general practitioner and corporate counsel, Consumer Protection Handbook is a concise guide to the basic principles of consumer protection law. Especially with the advent of e-commerce, firms are potentially subject to more varied consumer protection laws, in more jurisdictions, than ever before. This book analyzes principles of the most important consumer protection laws, provides an overview of the avenues available to the potential complainant and the risks faced by a potential defendant, and serves as a starting point for further research. The emphasis is on the law as it pertains to false advertising, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and privacy.
This book also provides a brief description of the enforcement powers and available remedies, both for public and private litigants, under the major consumer protection statutes. The next section discusses consumer protection enforcement under federal law, both by the government -- that is, the FTC -- and by private plaintiffs under the Lanham Act. The final chapter shifts to state law and provides a broad understanding of the types of practices proscribed in many of the states and the sources from which challenges may come. Practitioners can use this material as a springboard to further close examination of the relevant statutory and case law in the specific jurisdiction.
The statutes addressed in detail are Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which defines the unfair and deceptive practices regulated by the FTC; Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, which creates a federal private cause of action for false and misleading advertising; and the various state consumer protection and unfair and deceptive practices statutes enforced by state attorneys general, by other agencies, and by private plaintiffs.