Chicago Product Disparagement Lawyer
Are you a business owner dealing with negative feedback or criticism of your product or services? Product disparagement has serious impacts on businesses. A skilled product disparagement attorney helps businesses protect their finances and fight against malicious claims.
With decades of experience handling product disparagement claims, Wallace Miller offers experienced and knowledgeable legal representation for clients who are the victims of product disparagement. Whether dealing with a libelous blog post or an online smear campaign, Wallace Miller provides the needed help. Contact us today for a legal consultation by calling (312) 261-6193 and learn more about how our Chicago product disparagement lawyers can assist your business.
What Is Product Disparagement?
Product disparagement, also known as commercial disparagement or business disparagement, is a tort or a civil wrong that occurs when someone makes false and derogatory statements about a person’s or company’s business, goods, or services. A product disparagement action protects businesses from unfair competition and provides recourse for those whose businesses suffer due to false statements.
Product disparagement involves making negative statements about a company’s products or services that are not true. These statements can be made in writing (e.g., in an article or advertisement), verbally, or on the Internet. Product disparagement also includes communicating false statements to others.
The courts consider product disparagement an economic tort since it harms companies and causes monetary losses. As a result, companies may be able to file a lawsuit against the person or organization responsible for making the false statement to recover compensation.
Who Can Be Sued for Product Disparagement?
Individual people, businesses, or organizations could commit product disparagement in various ways. The person or company who makes a disparaging statement could be sued for product disparagement if that statement harms a business.
- Individuals: If a person makes a false statement about another’s product or service on social media, in emails, or other forms of communication, they could be held liable.
- Businesses: If a business makes false statements about another company’s products or services in advertisements or on its website, it could be liable for product disparagement.
- Organizations can also be liable for product disparagement if they make false statements about another’s products or services. Organizations could disparage products by including incorrect information about the product in their press releases, reports, newsletters, or other publications.
Only false or unsubstantiated statements equate to product disparagement, so companies and individuals must back up any claims about competing products or services with evidence and research before they make any public statements. On the other hand, if someone makes a true statement about a product, it is not considered product disparagement.
What Are the Elements of a Product Disparagement Claim?
To prevail on a claim for product disparagement, a plaintiff must prove four elements:
- The defendant made or published a false statement.
- The defendant intended, or the plaintiff reasonably believes the defendant intended, the statement to cause financial loss.
- The business suffered financial loss due to the false statement.
- The defendant made the statement knowing it was false or with reckless disregard for the information’s validity.
The “published” element means the defendant communicated the statement in writing or orally to a third party. A damaging but true statement is an absolute defense to a business disparagement lawsuit.
An example of disparagement would be if a competitor makes a false statement in an ad claiming a business hires illegal immigrants as workers, with the intention of the business suffering financial loss by scaring away customers. This behavior qualifies for a product disparagement claim.
Defamation vs. Commercial Disparagement
Defamation is a legal claim that occurs when a person publishes an untrue statement and causes injury to the person referenced by the remark. Examples of defamatory statements include:
- Negative reports about a person’s integrity, morality, or character
- Assertions suggesting a person was involved in a serious crime
- Statements suggesting a person has a mental or physical defect that would discourage others from associating with them
On the other hand, business disparagement applies only to businesses. A commercial or product disparagement claim focuses on protecting a business’s financial interests and customers rather than its reputation. In contrast, defamation claims are aimed at protecting an individual’s reputation.
Commercial disparagement and defamation are two separate legal claims, each with different elements and distinct requirements for proof. While a plaintiff can bring both types of lawsuits against individuals or businesses who make false and damaging statements, the claims differ in purpose. Companies may be able to file defamation and commercial disparagement claims, depending on the circumstances of the case. Product disparagement lawyers understand these differences and can help businesses seek justice if they are victims of either false statement.
Forms of Product Disparagement
Businesses may experience financial devastation due to product disparagement, so knowing what behaviors could qualify as disparaging is essential. Product disparagement takes many forms, but some of the most common examples include:
- False advertising: The intentional use of deceptive advertising to falsely portray a competitor’s product or services as inferior.
- Slander: Oral statements that paint a competitor’s product or service maliciously.
- Libel: Written statements that are deliberately false and meant to harm the reputation of a competitor’s product or service.
- Trade libel: A false and disparaging communication about the quality of goods or services distributed to the public in writing or another tangible form.
- Comparative advertising: False or exaggerated comparisons between products or services in written form or through television or print advertisements.
- False endorsements: Misleading consumers by implying that a product or service is endorsed or approved by someone without the consent of the alleged endorser.
- Negative reviews: Posting or publishing false reviews or testimonials about a competitor’s product or service online.
These forms of product disparagement could have serious financial consequences for companies on the receiving end of this malicious behavior. Businesses should consider retaining an experienced product disparagement lawyer to help protect their products, services, and profits.
Defenses to Product Disparagement
Truth is an absolute defense to a product disparagement claim, meaning that if a defendant demonstrates the statement made was factually true, the defendant will not be liable for any damages. However, even if it is not completely accurate, it may still be a valid defense if the statement is substantially true.
Statements made in a judicial proceeding or statements made by a public officer in performing their duties are considered “absolutely privileged,” so these statements are immune to a product disparagement claim, even if they are defamatory.
Conditional privilege is another valid defense to a claim of product disparagement. Conditional privilege applies when the speaker or publisher has some legitimate interest in making the statement. However, this defense will not apply if the speaker or publisher made the statement with malicious intent.
An assertion of opinion by the defendant will also lead to a product disparagement claim failing because opinions cannot be proven or disproven. However, the claim may still apply if a defendant labels an opinion as a factual statement.
How Much Compensation Can Businesses Recover for Product Disparagement?
Businesses facing product disparagement can sue for compensation for their losses. The money should compensate for the business’s losses and put them in the position they would have been in if the defendant had never made the false statements. Businesses must provide detailed proof of the money they lost to recover compensation.
How a Product Disparagement Lawyer Can Help
When your business experiences product disparagement, it can be challenging. Many business owners feel overwhelmed and need help protecting their businesses and profits. Fortunately, a product disparagement lawyer can help in many ways, including:
- Investigating the source of the disparaging remarks and building a case against them
- Drafting and sending cease and desist letters to anyone making disparaging remarks about your product or business
- Filing and litigating a product disparagement claim on behalf of the business
- Seeking monetary damages for the business, such as lost profits or market share, or reimbursement of legal fees
- Advocating for the business in any potential settlement negotiations
Having a product disparagement lawyer on your side makes all the difference in protecting your business and its financial success. Product disparagement lawyers understand the law and can advise companies on navigating these complex legal matters. When your business faces product disparagement, contact an attorney for guidance.
Speak With a Chicago Product Disparagement Attorney
At Wallace Miller, we understand how difficult and disheartening it is when your business faces product disparagement. Our team of experienced product disparagement attorneys in Chicago can help protect your business against these damaging claims.
We have the knowledge and resources to handle even the most complex cases, ensuring your rights are fully protected. Don’t try to handle a case of product disparagement on your own. You need the guidance of an attorney who knows the ropes and knows how to build the most robust case possible to pursue the compensation you need to make things right.