Slander is becoming more of a problem everyday in America, mainly due to how much information we take in on a daily basis. Between the TV, internet and social media, we are bombarded by people's opinions. But how can you tell if someone is legitimately complaining about your company or if they are committing Commercial Defamation?
Commercial defamation is often described as the slander of goods, trade libel, unfair competition or interference with prospective business advantage. You may have a legitimate claim of commercial defamation if another person or business has either orally or through written publication, disparaged your business. Commercial disparagement covers false statements about a business in general and false statements about their products and services as well. The operative word being “false”. If someone is talking bad about your business and they can prove what they are saying, then this tort doesn't apply.
To successfully prove your claim of commercial disparagement, you need the following elements:
- The statements were false
- The defendant was actively trying to cause you financial loss through the false statements or they believe the statements will ultimately lead to a financial loss for your business.
- You do incur a financial loss due to the statements.
- The publisher acted with malice. This means that they either acted with reckless disregard for the truth or knew the statements to be false.
There are quite a few ways to defend yourself against claims of commercial defamation, but the best one is the truth. If the statements that you made were not false then the tort doesn't apply. Also, some people may have an absolute or conditional privilege against these claims. For example, if you are a public officer that made statements during the performance of your duty or you made statements in a judicial hearing then you have an absolute privilege against Commercial Defamation.
Understanding your rights as a business owner is the first step toward building a great case. If you believe that you or your company has been a victim of commercial defamation, contact our attorneys now. We can help you sort through facts and build a solid, winning, case.