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Shipping, trucking and unfair competition

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Transportation Law |

While California ports have had their share of problems in recent years, including labor disputes and shipping bottlenecks, a major port on the East Coast has been rocked by allegations of unfair competition.

The Port of Philadelphia has expanded in recent years, and business is booming. However, a group of trucking companies claims that state officials have given preferential treatment to one company, Holt Logistics, allowing it to prevent other businesses from gaining a greater foothold in the market.

Pennsylvania has spent hundreds of millions of dollars building new infrastructure for the port over the past few years, and signed a contract with Holt to be the terminal’s operator. Ordinarily, the terminal operator’s main responsibility is to load and unload ships, but critics say that Holt has unfairly expanded into other areas, including transporting goods to and from the docks. They claim this threatens the livelihoods of trucking companies and violates federal law.

The Federal Maritime Commission is reportedly investigating the allegations.

Understanding unfair competition

The legal term “unfair competition” describes a large category of business practices that can harm other businesses and consumers. These include practices as diverse as trademark infringement, false advertising, counterfeiting goods, price discrimination interference with contracts and even monopolistic practices. Multiple state and federal laws are aimed at keeping these unfair practices to a minimum, and these are enforced by multiple state and federal agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Federal Maritime Commission.

These agencies employ a great variety of methods for enforcing these laws. In many cases, businesses must take the initiative themselves in order to get investigations started.

For cases falling under California law, potential remedies include monetary damages and, in some cases, injunctive relief — meaning that a court can order a competitor to end an unfair practice.

Because this area of the law is so complex, business leaders concerned about unfair competition would be wise to discuss their legal options with experienced professionals.

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