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Business-to-business slander: When your reputation is on the line

In the business world, your reputation is everything. Whether you provide goods or services, you know that damage to your reputation can seriously hurt your bottom line.

However, is taking care of your customers and meeting or exceeding their expectations enough to protect you? What if another company in your industry -- a competitor, most likely -- decides to make some decidedly false claims about your business, your company's ethics, your management, or something similar? Here are some things to consider:

Are you trading insults or dealing with defamation?

This a big difference between insults and defamation. Essentially, insults are just someone's opinion -- they aren't objectively true or false. However, when someone publishes untrue statements about your business and presents them as facts, that's defamation.

For example, imagine that you and a rival both own pizza shops. On a community Facebook page, your rival has openly claimed that your pizza sauce tastes like battery acid and your pizza like cardboard. As infuriating as that is, there's no accounting for taste -- and those statements are merely opinion.

On the other hand, imagine that your rival makes posts online urging people not to buy pizza from you because he claims your shop is actually a front for organized crime. Naturally, it's not a true statement -- and you can objectively prove (via tax records and other financial documents) that you run a legitimate business. That's defamation.

Why should you take legal action against defamation?

If your business is being defamed by another business, there are a lot of potential financial consequences. You could lose existing customers. You could lose even more potential customers. In some cases, the damage may extend even further, affecting your relationship with your suppliers or vendors.

An injunction can stop the defamation, but it won't help you recover lost business. If you've already experienced financial losses, you may be able to sue the other company for damages. If your business relationship with other companies has suffered because of the defamation, you may also have a case for tortuous interference.

You've worked hard to build your business, so don't allow someone's lies take it away from you without a fight. Contact our office to learn more about how we may be able to help.

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