Just like a person works hard to build and maintain their reputation, businesses do the same. Therefore, when a business’ reputation is attacked or defamed, especially if it endangers the company’s financial interests, it is important to address the issue immediately. Two ways that a company’s reputation can come under fire are through business disparagement and business defamation.
How Are Business Disparagement and Defamation Different?
While business defamation and disparagement may seem interchangeable to some, there are key differences between the two. Business defamation is when a false assertion of fact regarding a business is communicated to a third party and that false assertion of fact harms the business’ reputation. Examples of business defamation include:
- Posting false reviews on a consumer review website, for instance Yelp or Better Business Bureau
- Posting false complaints on a social media website, for instance Facebook or Twitter
- Posting false reports on a professional networking website, for instance LinkedIn
Business disparagement involves derogatory statements made about an individual’s company or property with the purpose of convincing others not to deal with the individual. Examples of business disparagement include:
- A business publishing an advertisement or review that falsely claims a competitor’s products do not meet quality standards
- Activists falsely claiming that a business is violating safety, labor and/or environmental standards
- A customer or disgruntled employee posting malicious and false information about a business on a consumer review website
Business disparagement and defamation both can impact companies in negative ways, including the following:
- Hurts employee morale
- Decreases foot traffic at storefront locations
- Decreases online click throughs or website purchases
- Emboldens others to leave false negative reviews or further publish the false information
- Damages the public’s perception of the business
- Makes it more difficult to attract and retain talented/high-quality employees
- Hurts the company’s reputation with advertisers, sponsors, and others within their industry
- Hurts the business’ bottom line
What Are the Elements of Business Defamation and Disparagement Lawsuits?
Businesses that have been the victim of defamation or disparagement have an opportunity to fight back to remove the false communication and receive damages. One way that they can do that is through a business disparagement or defamation lawsuit. However, before they can pursue legal action, their claim must meet certain requirements. Both defamation and disparagement lawsuits require specific elements to be present before they can proceed.
The elements of a business defamation lawsuit are:
- Prove that a false statement was made about the business
- Prove that the false statement was communicated to a third party
- Prove that the false statement was made with intent
- Prove that the false statement damaged the business’ reputation
The elements of a business disparagement lawsuit are:
- Prove that a false statement was published
- Prove that the false statement was made with the purpose of causing financial harm to the business
- Prove that the false statement caused the business to suffer financial losses
- Prove that the person or entity that made the statement knew it was false or made the statement without regard for whether it was true or false
Whether your company is facing defamation or disparagement, the most important thing is that you act quickly to dispute the claims and confront both the author and the publisher (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp). The best way to do that is to discuss your situation with an experienced business litigation attorney. A business lawyer will be able to examine your situation, determine your best options, and guide you through the legal process of legally stopping those responsible for damaging your company’s reputation from continuing to defame or disparage your business and removing negative material from the public view.
Schedule a Strategic Consultation with an Experienced Business Litigation Attorney
You worked hard to build your business into what it is today. So, if your business’ reputation is defamed or disparaged, you must fight back. Your company’s reputation in the community, with customers and potential customers and within your industry is on the line—as well as your business’ financial interests.
At Tomlinson Bomsztyk Russ, our experienced business litigation attorneys understand what is at stake for you and your company. That is why from the moment you become our client, priority number one is reclaiming your business’ good name and holding those who defamed or disparaged your company accountable. Our legal team has decades of experience helping businesses protect their interests. We know how to successfully manage business disparagement and defamation lawsuits, and we have the skills and expertise to fight back and fix your reputation.