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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
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Experience:  All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
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Is it legal to target my competitors clients

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I build websites (B2B) for a particular niche industry. I have a competitor that offers the same B2B service but lacks many of my features. Am I legally allowed to go to hundreds of my competitor's client's websites and fill out their website contact form telling them about my service and how it is better? Also, Will this cause trouble with the CAN-SPAM act since this is through a website form and not a direct email? I really need a referenced answer so I can proceed confidently.

JG :

Despite its name, the CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t apply just to bulk email. It covers all commercial messages, which the law defines as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,” including email that promotes content on commercial websites. The law makes no exception for business-to-business email. That means all email – for example, a message to former customers announcing a new product line – must comply with the law.


Hello JG, thank you, XXXXX XXXXX saw that on the FCC website which is why it was a secondary question. What about targeting my competitors directly? According to the FCC I can send an email if I label it correctly and follow other rules, but what about actually targeting my competitor's clients specifically stating that I know they are using company X and this is why they should consider my company Y

JG :

You should avoid using the competitors name if possible because as you know these claims will be viewed with intense scrutiny by your competitor.

JG :

If you make 10 claims about your competitors product and 1 is false you open yourself up to serious liability under the lanham act.

JG :

It is advisable for you to avoid specifically naming the competitor and you can follow all the provisions of the CAN-SPAM act.


So you're saying if I don't mention the competitor's name and I follow the below FTC rules I am allowed to email hundreds of my competitor's clients showing them the benefits of my service?

The FTC’s rules require:

  • Identification – Unsolicited commercial email sent to non-wireless accounts must be clearly identified as a solicitation or advertisement for products or services.

  • Offering a Way to Reject Future Messages – Commercial email senders must provide easily-accessible, legitimate ways for recipients to reject future messages from that sender.

  • Return Address – All commercial email, and email considered transactional and relationship messages (about existing transactions), must contain legitimatereturn email addresses, as well as the sender’s postal address.

  • Subject Lines – Commercial email senders must use subject lines that are accurate. Using misleading or bogus subject lines to trick readers into opening messages is prohibited.



by email I mean contact them through the website form*

JG :

Unfortunately, I cannot give you a "legal opinion" that is meant for your to rely on and act upon- this site and attorney ethics do not allow it. I can only point in the direction of the law and relevant information and let you evaluate for yourself. If you would like such an opinion you need to hire a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction that you can form an attorney client relationship with.


Hello JG, I understand you've put in time but I don't feel I've gotten a usable response based on my question that said I need to be able to proceed confidently. I guess my main question was that can I legally use a platform that my competitor provides to contact their clients (the contact form). I wanted to know that if my competitor realized I emailed several hundred of their clients from their contact forms, would they have a legal right to pursue me.

JG :

I will opt out and allow another expert to help you- unfortunately none of the experts on the site will be able to provide you with a "legal opinion" on whether or not you may or may not be liable performing certain acts.

Your previous expert has asked me to review this matter. If you are not obtaining the information on their clients from the competitor directly (stealing their proprietary client lists) and are obtaining the information from other sources, then as long as you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act and can prove you obtained the client information from a publicly available source, then the competitor cannot sue you for contacting their clients, this is called free market competition and you have a right to advertise to targeted clients who can use your product.

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hello Paul,

Thank you very much! So having a large list websites in this niche and then simply going to each site and making a note that it is from that competitor, and then contacting them would be legal?

Makes sense to me. Thanks!
Yes, since that is open to the general public and not proprietary information only known to the competitor.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 118762
Experience: All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
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