The process of filing a such complaint against a competitor with the
Federal Trade Commission is a simple one. Basically, all you have to
do is to prepare a document in which you explain as clearly and
extensively as possible the reason why you believe the FTC should
intervene in that particular case. It is completely up to you how to
express your request; there is no formal template.
Once you have prepared that document - which does not require
participation of a lawyer, although it might prove useful depending on
the individual circumstances and the complexity of the matter - send
Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
Please note that despite the designation "Consumer Response Center",
they are also responsible for handling companies' complaints against
Once the FTC received the complaint, they will assess whether public
interest requires that investigations be carried out. Should that be
the case, and should the investigations result in the conclusion that
your competitor's advertising practices are indeed deceptive,
unlawful, or in any other way violating their regulations, they will
open a procedure.
Note that you are not taking any legal action against your competitor;
you are just asking a Federal regulator to check a company's conduct.
Therefore, and because there is no danger of counterclaims, you do not
need an attorney yourself. All legal action resulting from your
complaint would be a matter between the FTC and your competitor. Once
you have filed your complaint, there is nothing else you can do.
Filing a such complaint with the FTC does not involve any fees. Of
course, should you hire a lawyer to write the complaint or to provide
you advice, no one will reimburse you for this or similar
Examples for companies that filed complaints in situations similar to
yours are hard to find. The FTC keeps all investigations strictly
confidential. Not even in the published documentation of their cases
is revealed who originally filed a complaint that led to
investigation. And what is more important: Confidentiality also
prevents that the party that filed a complaint is informed of if and
what action is taken. So it is almost impossible for a company that
filed a complaint to say for sure whether it was their complaint that
caused the FTC to investigate and intervene. It would just be
speculation to make a such statement. Therefore, trying to locate
reliable accounts of this kind would be a game of pure chance.
The sources listed below provide some additional information you may find useful.
Federal Trade Commission: General Advertising Policies
American Bar Association: Challenging a Competitor?s Advertising Claims (PDF file)