Business Defamation and Damages

May 17th, 2012

…we are all familiar with defamation which occurs against individuals, in other words, when an individual is subject to both a false and defamatory statement which is untrue.   But in the business world, business defamation occurs quite frequently among competitors and otherwise.  For instance, an advertisement that is both false and defamatory, that is suggestive of an individual’s business can be the subject of business defamation.  Also there are statements on the Internet, for instance, about a business either expressly or impliedly which can result in what we call business defamation, which are false and defaming statements which hurt someone’s business.

Welcome to Defamation Law Radio. Internet defamation of character is as easy to perpetuate as a blog post, Facebook update, rating submission, or a forum comment.  Your online reputation is measured by the websites return as Google search results.  Do you know what people are saying and writing about you?


Matt:  Hi, it’s Matt Plessner for Defamation Law Radio, and today we are talking about defamation that occurs in the business world.  To help us understand business defamation better we are speaking today with Attorney at Law, Mark Clark of the Traverse Legal Office in Traverse City Michigan.  Mark, how are you?

Mark:  I’m doing well Matt. How are you?

Matt:  I’m doing well.  Thank you very much.  Now, Mark, what exactly is business defamation?

Mark:  Well, Matt, we are all familiar with defamation which occurs against individuals, in other words, when an individual is subject to both a false and defamatory statement which is untrue.   But in the business world, business defamation occurs quite frequently among competitors and otherwise.  For instance, an advertisement that is both false and defamatory, that is suggestive of an individual’s business can be the subject of business defamation.  Also there are statements on the Internet, for instance, about a business either expressly or impliedly which can result in what we call business defamation, which are false and defaming statements which hurt someone’s business.

Matt:  What exactly do you need to legally prove business defamation?

Mark:  Well, what you need to do to prove business defamation is to establish that someone else has published both a false and a defamatory or a negative sounding statement against your business.  As I have indicated, this could be on the Internet, anywhere on the Internet on a posting board or otherwise, or it may occur as the result more commonly from an advertisement.

Matt:  Mark, how do you prove damages in a business defamation claim?

Mark:  Well oftentimes, if you are a business and you are the subject of a false and defamatory statement, it’s not always easy to establish an actual loss of business.  But in the case of business defamation in most states, including the state of Michigan, the courts don’t require you to prove an actual loss of business provided that the defamatory statement impugns your ability with respect to your business, your ability to do business, or your methods of doing business.  Court will award you damages for the loss of your business reputation alone without the necessity, in most cases, of showing actual loss.

Matt:  Well, thank you Mark for your time, and I hope you all have a better understanding of business defamation.

Mark:  Thanks very much, Matt.  The public can contact the attorneys at Traverse Legal for an assessment of their potential business defamation claim anytime.

Matt:  Well, thank you very much Mark, and I’m Matt Plessner.  Join us next time on Defamation Law Radio.

You’ve been listening to Defamation Law Radio, where defamation of character, slander, and libel are always the topic of the day.  Whether you are a defamation attorney or a client, we are the number one resource for all your defamation questions.

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6 Responses to “Business Defamation and Damages”

  1. Business defamation on the Internet is becoming all too common. It is so easy for a customer, competitor or malcontent to post something online which is a direct attack on your business reputation. Business defamation can cost you real dollars and real customers. Websites who often host this type of derogatory and harmful content posted by 3rd parties are sometimes immune from attack and liability. Some websites won’t take defamatory statements about your company or business down even if requested by the person who posted the information. 1st thing a good defamation law attorney will do will analyze your particular circumstances and determine whether or not what was posted really constitutes business defamation. If a business defamation claim appears colorable, a good defamation law attorney can help you understand your options against both the website and the person, sometimes anonymous, who posted the defamatory statement. Defamation law varies from state to state. California is different than New York which is different from Michigan which is different from Florida and other states. Getting the law analyzed alongside the facts is critical.

  2. The Internet and defamation go together like bread and butter. It is as though everyone owns their own newspaper and publishing content is as easy as clicking a hyperlink. The Internet is so immediate. A consumer, competitor or 3rd person gets mad at you and it is just too easy to post a defamatory statement about you online.

  3. A business attorney will not have the experience and expertise necessary to fully analyze your business defamation claim. It is very important for you to work with a law firm that not only understands the elements of defamation of character which will apply to your situation but also understands Internet law and the backend of the World Wide Web.

  4. admin says:

    A business attorney will understand all too well how one defamatory statement can affect your companies online reputation. Attorney business lawyers may not understand how to remove defamation of character from a webpage, blog post or comment. Internet lawyers who understand the special laws which apply to website owners, ISPs and website hosts will be in the best position to provide legal advice about your specific defamation of character issue when it is posted online.

  5. admin says:

    This is defamation is a consequence of our cultural change in the Internet age. It used to be that word-of-mouth was what one person said to their neighbor across the fence. Word-of-mouth is now what people post on Facebook, twitter, Google plus or one of the many gripe sites out there dedicated to harsh commentary. Business attorneys understand business. Internet attorneys understand how one negative blog post can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in business. Majority of your customers will Google your company name or trademarks prior to finalizing any business deal with you. If there is content that is returned on Google search which says you engaged in fraud, deception, illegal activity or are otherwise disreputable, offer poor customer service or provided poor quality goods and services, you are at risk to losing that customer.

  6. admin says:

    Defamation damages can be difficult to prove. Allegations of defamation per se make it easier to recover damages even when you can’t show lost profits or other financial harm directly caused by the defamatory statement. Defamation of character cases can be extremely challenging. You should always speak with a qualified defamation law attorney so that you understand the challenges involved, the length of time it typically takes to prosecute a defamation case and the risks that you may face even if you are the person filing the lawsuit. The last thing you want is to have to pay the defendant’s attorneys fees at the end of the case.

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