Stephanie Clifford wrote over the weekend in the New York Times about what’s behind the increase in unfair competition claims. Ms. Clifford reports:

The number of complaints over ads from competitors filed with the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the industry’s main self-regulatory program for national ads, is on track to set a record this year. There have been 82 formal complaints so far in 2009, after last year’s record of 84 challenges, a sharp increase from 62 in 2007 and 52 in 2006.

Among a discussion of what it means to file an NAD complaint versus court action and why both seem to be increasing is this salient quote from Linda A. Goldstein at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP: “How brands will deal with their competitors’ advertisements is an increasingly important component of the overall marketing strategy.”