Comparative Advertising in the United States and in France

Romano, Charlotte J. | January 1, 2005

Comparative advertising has been widely used for over thirty years in the United States. By contrast, the use of this advertising format has traditionally been-and still is-very marginal in France. The term “comparative advertising” refers to any form of advertising in which a trademark owner draws a comparison between his product, service, or brand and that of a competitor. The central issue of this article is to determine why, despite identical guiding policies, comparative advertising remains unusual in France while it is commonplace in the United States. Attempting to answer that question unavoidably raises numerous related issues: can the two regimes be different and nevertheless equally meet the shared objectives of free competition and consumer welfare? Which other policies, values, and standards, if any, clash with the policy in favor of comparative advertising? Is one country’s regime better than the other?