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21 Iowa L. Rev. 175 (1935-1936)
Unfair Competition

handle is hein.journals/ilr21 and id is 193 raw text is: Iowa Law Review
VOLUME XXI               JANUARY, 1936                     Number 2
THERE is probably no term in law or economics which is more
difficult to define than unfair competition. The phrase is
obviously more of an epithet than a word of art. Its legal usage
embodies a conclusion rather than the means of determining the
legality of business behavior. Definition by illustration merely
exhibits a multiplicity of usage rather than any identity of meaning.
Temporal and personal factors are also significant. What was fair
yesterday may be unfair today. What is deemed unfair by one
group of business men may be regarded as eminently proper by
another. What is offensive to a commission may be palatable to the
courts. There are other variables. Practices that are economically
justifiable in one industry may be reprehensible in others. What
is harmless to competitors may be harmful to consumers and vice
versa. Business men, economists, courts, legislatures, and adminis-
trative agencies have arduously striven to chart the boundaries of
this unruly concept, to give it some definite content without de-
stroying the elasticity which is its chief virtue. We shall examine
in this paper these varied attempts to establish and enforce a plane
of competition and we shall seek to discover what, if any, are the
common ideas that underlie such efforts.
* This paper is based in part upon a chapter, in the preparation of which,
the writer collaborated with Dr. Leverett S. Lyon of the Brookings Institute,
and which is to be included in a forthcoming book by Dr. Lyon. I wish to
acknowledge my indebtedness to Dr. Lyon for his generous permission to base
my treatment on this study and for the many stimulating ideas I have acquired
from him.
t Ansociate Professor of Law, Columbia University School of Law.

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