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David H. Schwartz May 28, 2020

Trade libel is a form of defamation, slander, or falsehood in which one party attempts to damage the reputation or quality of another party’s name, services, or products. Legally speaking, when a party makes a false claim against a company, the company may, in turn, sue that party for trade libel.

A business litigation attorney who represents the claimant must show a false published statement and provide evidence that the statement is untrue, caused damages, and was not in a privileged category.

The Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, INC. represents commercial clients in San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Jose, Oakland, and Alameda County, California.

Why Trade Libel is Important to a Business

Companies are targets of negative reviews and customer complaints almost daily. Online sites such as Yelp, Trustpilot, Consumer Reports, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB), as well as social media sites, give consumers a platform to post negative reviews and voice their concerns about their experience with the company or its products. 

Most of these reviews do not qualify as libel. Furthermore, a company could waste a considerable amount of time, energy, and resources pursuing negative reviews. However, some statements made by individuals or organizations are destructive enough to harm a company’s reputation or cause a significant decline in revenue.

As such, a business has the legal right to pursue compensation for damages that occur as a result of slanderous statements.

Filing a Trade Libel Lawsuit

Cal. Civ. Code §45 and Cal. Civ. Code §46 provides legal definitions of defamation and grants businesses the right to file a trade libel lawsuit against offenders. To win a case, a business litigation attorney must establish the following:

  • The party made a false statement about the company or its products or services.

  • The party published the statement, making it public or known by other parties.

  • The statement must be presented as a matter of fact and not the party’s personal opinion.

  • The company suffered monetary loss or substantial harm as a result of the statement.

The most challenging aspect of a trade libel lawsuit is proving that the party’s statements were presented as facts and not opinions. In addition, there must be an established and clear correlation between the libelous statement and subsequent damages.

Trade Libel Lawsuit Defenses

An attorney representing the defendant must establish the following:

  • The defendant did not make the alleged libelous statements.

  • The defendant did make the statements, but they were true.

  • The statements were not made maliciously or recklessly.

  • The prosecution failed to establish that the statements caused the claimant harm.

Recently, online statements or reviews made on social media platforms or review sites have come under heavy scrutiny, leading to increased lawsuits. Defense attorneys have a more difficult time defending their clients due to overwhelming responses or replies from viewers. For instance, a YouTube video that contains a strong critique of a product or service may garner thousands of negative comments about the product or the company, leading to a decline in the company’s sales.

Why You Need a Business Litigation Attorney

Businesses are often the targets of libel or defamation. As such, it is important to understand how to navigate a lawsuit when such action occurs. A business litigation attorney understands the legal system and what it takes to win a case.

A lawyer can investigate the case, establish the facts, provide an effective legal strategy, and represent the client in court. An attorney can also provide sound legal consultation and help the client avoid mistakes that can hurt their case. When searching for an attorney, a company should secure legal services from an attorney that has experience with trade libel law.

Trade Libel Attorney Serving San Francisco, California

The Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, INC. provides legal services for clients on both sides of trade libel cases. With over 45 years of experience, David understands the legal system and understands what it takes to win a case. Get a free case review from a business litigation attorney calling today. The Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, INC. is proud to serve clients in Oakland, Alameda County, San Jose, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area.