The industry I am in is digital (nothing is mailed). There is a competitor in my industry and I want to compare our products with theirs. However I don't want them to know that their competitor is buying a product from them.

If I use a prepaid gift card and fake name and billing address would this be illegal?

This would be purely to compare products from a marketing standpoint. No reverse engineering or copyright infringing.

Edits to answer comments (too new of a user to use comments):

For the sake of this question lets say there is nothing in the ToS that states I must use a real name/ address

The industry is small and they would know who I am. I am also just interested in the theoretical legal question as well.

  • What are the terms of use for the provided products? – Ron Beyer May 18 '20 at 23:13
  • As a practical matter, do you think said competitor knows that you work for your employer. I.e. could you not just buy it yourself, with your own name and mailing address? Or are you visible enough and/or the company is small enough that you think you are identifiable by name? – sharur May 18 '20 at 23:26

If I use a prepaid gift card and fake name and billing address would this be illegal?

Generally speaking, no. Since you left the type of product and its T&C unspecified, assessing whether or why your scenario would trigger an exception would require us to speculate.

The purchase/transaction constitutes a contract. The supplier delivers its product in exchange for a payment. The form of actual payment (rather than a promise of payment) is mostly irrelevant except maybe for (1) implementation of return policies, and/or (2) a cognizable need for accuracy in the registration of the product.

Suppose a person visits a store and pays with cash. From a legal standpoint, it is generally irrelevant whether that person identifies himself as someone else; and the supplier is interested only in getting compensated for his product. The exceptions to this depend mainly on whether the commerce of a product is subject to legal constraints (such as the prohibition of underage drinking), although your question nowhere suggests that that is the case.

The only difference between the preceding scenario and the one you describe is the venue for that transaction and hence the form of payment. The fact that you would do the transaction with a prepaid gift card gives the supplier the same assurance that he is getting compensated as effectively as if you paid with cash. Hence the form of payment is irrelevant to the supplier insofar as he is getting the compensation he required for the delivery of his product.

Therefore, any false details of an irrelevant item such as the form of payment in this context are generally inconsequential from a legal standpoint.

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