Language translation services come in handy in the context of unfair competition law. Unfair competition law generally exists to punish practices that involve the use of means which are considered incorrect or reprehensible. This being the case, many of the practices punished by unfair competition law have a direct impact on intellectual property rights. For example, acts of imitation that lead to confusion in advertising through the use of identical or similar distinctive signs not only raise intellectual property rights questions, but also unfair competition issues.
However, when the intellectual property question involves an issue that spans across borders, the IP rules become less clear. For example, if one company in Country A has a reputation for being associated with a particular slogan and a company in Country B uses that same slogan but in a foreign language translation, is there an issue of intellectual property rights? That question is best answered by “it depends”.
When facing such a situation, one may want to examine the jurisdiction’s unfair competition laws. In a globalized world, competition knows no boundaries, and if the two companies are
selling similar products or services, the advertisement may raise an issue of unfair competition regardless of a foreign language translation. The key will usually be providing expert
testimony – usually by a foreign language translator – who is able to testify to the two slogans’ cross-cultural similarity.