When can your business sue someone else for defamation?

On Behalf of | May 14, 2019 | Firm News

Building a business takes a substantial investment of both time and money. Even if you have experience in the field and connections, it can take months or even years before you have actual income from the business. Most businesses rely on a combination of word-of-mouth recommendations and brand recognition by consumers to build their client or customer base.

Unfortunately, that means that a person or organization with a chip on their shoulder could cause serious issues for your company’s financial bottom line. It only takes one person spreading misinformation to damage your reputation and cost you customers. Online review systems like Yelp and social media have made it easier than ever for one person to ignite a firestorm of backlash against a business.

If a person or company has made public statements that directly impacted your business’s bottom line, you may find yourself wondering if that qualifies as defamation and what options you have to protect your business. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to take action against someone whose words hurt your business.

Defamation has a broad definition that can benefit your business in court

Defamation can involve all kinds of accusations, from statements about the personal values of individuals who own or work for the business to overall claims about the product or services that the business provides.

Some people interpret defamation quite broadly, going so far as to claim that the government announcing charges against the business for its practices could constitute defamation and have a negative impact on the business’s bottom line. Others may look at online reviews or even comments on their social media pages as evidence of defamation.

Although a lawsuit against a government agency can be fraught with complications, similar lawsuits have been brought against celebrities and media personalities in the past. For example, Oprah Winfrey famously lost a case brought against her by the domestic meat industry for statements she made on her popular television show.

Determining if your situation really involves defamation

It is normal to have an emotional reaction to someone attacking your business. From negative reviews to rants about how your company operates, the things people say online can damage your company for a long time. However, not everything that feels like defamation or a breach of the law actually is.

It can be hard to determine what constitutes defamation and what is just an unflattering opinion. It may make sense to sit down and discuss your concerns with an experienced Philadelphia business litigation attorney. Your lawyer can give you an idea of whether or not the courts would agree with your classification of a certain behavior or statement as defamation. They can also help you build a case and take action to protect your business.

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