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How is business defamation defined?

What does business to business defamation look like? Many are familiar with personal defamatory acts, but how does it play out between corporations? Here are some elements of business defamation and how the state of Virginia categorizes libel and slander.

The Power of Reputation

Reputation is arguably the most important asset a company has. When that reputation is damaged, the company may lose market share, need to lay off workers or close altogether. It is important to note that companies have a heightened public visibility and stories about them can quickly make their way into the news and spread widely on social media.

The Destruction of Libel and Slander

In Virginia, the term defamation refers to both libel and slander. More than just an insult, a statement that is slanderous to a business must be:

• A false accusation communicated openly

• The charge must be able to harm the reputation of the business

The business that received the libelous claims needs to prove that those statements truly damaged the reputation, value and operations of the company.

The Burden of Proof

True defamation, as defined by this state, explains that it is an assertion, not an opinion, that is false. The statement also needs to be a defamatory one, such as, "The chairman at Acme industries is unfit for his position and is poised to destroy the company with his false earnings reports."

This statement would have to be told to a third party or published to gain attention from others that would result in damage to the company. With the pervasiveness of social media, news stories are spread and go viral in a matter of hours, damaging company reputation along the way.

Facing down defamation from a competitor is never easy. Hiring legal counsel that is experienced in building a strong case and aggressively defending the best interests of your enterprise is to your best advantage.

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