Business defamation—also known as business disparagement, business and commercial disparagement, or trade libel—is a claim or cause of action for damages that may be made by a business when another person or entity has defamed the business—usually by making untrue statements of fact, whether spoken (slander) or written (libel), that damage the business.
Business defamation laws vary from state to state but the elements of a business defamation claim are generally:
• the defendant published false and disparaging information about the plaintiff;
• the defendant published the words with malice;
• the defendant published the words without privilege; and
• the publication caused special damages.
Special damages are economic damages, such as lost income.
And if the plaintiff proves the defendant published false, disparaging information, and caused the plaintiff to suffer actual damages, the plaintiff is also entitled to recover exemplary damages from the defendant.
Business defamation laws may be located in a state’s statutes or in its court opinions (common law or case law).