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Is a competitor defaming your business?

You're proud of your company. You work hard to do things right, and your customers seem to appreciate it. In fact, you rely a lot on word-of-mouth for new business.

That makes it particularly troubling to hear that one of your close competitors is disparaging your business unfairly to anyone who will listen. Word eventually came back to you through a few customers and even a supplier.

What can you do? It depends. First, ask yourself two questions:

  • Are their statements harming you or your business in some way?
  • Were the statements objectively false in nature?

If you can answer affirmatively to both of these, you may have cause for a civil action against the other business.

Imagine, for example, that you own a pizza shop. Another pizza shop owner -- your nearest competitor -- has taken to telling people that you are a "real jerk" and that your pizza tastes "like cardboard with sauce." While unflattering and potentially damaging to both your reputation and business, they're pretty subjective statements.

On the other hand, it's an entirely different situation if your competitor is telling people that they know "for a fact" that your homemade pizza sauce is actually from a bottle of Ragu or that you steal the tips from your delivery drivers at every turn. Those are objective statements that you can prove are untrue. Since they're definitely the kind of statements that are likely to harm your business and reputation, you have every reason to act.

A lawsuit isn't necessarily your only option in these kinds of cases. A consultation with an experienced attorney can help you decide what steps you should take and how to begin.

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