When a person speaks or writes something that is false and damaging to reputation of another business or professional, and makes these statements available to a third party, that person may be liable for commercial defamation.

A defamation lawyer helps those who have been wronged by the false and damaging statements of another hold those individuals accountable.

What Are the Elements of Commercial Defamation?

To successfully bring a claim of commercial defamation, the business/professional must show the following:

  1. There was a communication to a third party.
  2. That was false.
  3. Concerning the business or professional's reputation.
  4. Which is communicated to the third party as true.

Different states may require the proof of various additional elements, such as a malicious intent by the speaker and actual damages suffered by the victim.

Will Unintentional Communication Make Someone Liable for Commercial Defamation?

Maybe, if speaker was negligent in making these damaging statements. For example, if the person knew or should have known that these statements could be heard by a third party who would understand the statements to be derogatory and take it as true, then the speaker may be liable.

What Types of Communications Are Considered Defamatory?

It depends, but many courts use a standard that requires the false statements to be understood by the community as a whole as damaging to one's reputation. Statements of opinion and statements that are annoying, unflattering, or embarrassing are generally not defamatory.

In the context of commercial defamation, the courts focus on statements that will injure one's trade or business and one's ability to making a living. Furthermore, for those who are public figures, they need to demonstrate actual malice.

What Are Some Examples of Commercial Defamation?

Some examples of commercial defamation include:

  • Falsely accusing a professional that they do not have the particular skills or qualifications essential to their occupation.
  • Statements implying dishonest or corrupt behaviors, such as overcharging.
  • Statements imputing poor credit, bankruptcy, and poor financial health.
  • Statements regarding mental disorder or incapacity.

How Can One Defend Against a Commercial Defamation Claim?

A person accused of commercial defamation may raise the following defense:

  • The statement made is a truthful statement.
  • The defamer has the consent of the business or professional to make the statements.
  • The statements made were not intended to convey actual facts, but rather they were meant to be a parody or a joke.

Do I Need an Experienced Lawyer?

If you feel as though someone has defamed you and your business, a business lawyer can help you with the timely and difficult procedures involved in filing a defamation lawsuit. A lawyer will also help if someone has treated you unfairly because you filed defamation charges against them. If you are being sued for commercial defamation, you should consider speaking to a lawyer immediately.