In our on-going blog series on defamation, we’ve been mainly talking about individual defamation, slander, and libel, which is where someone says an untruth about you that causes you harm in some way. But what about businesses? How are they protected from disparagement if people say untruths about them? After all, businesses can lose money as well and can even be put out of business. So what do you do?

Tate Bywater represents business owners as well as individuals in defamation cases. As a top law firm in Prince William County, our civil litigation lawyers specialize in helping those who either have been accused of defamation or those who feel they have been a victim of defamation. In addition to civil litigation, we represent a whole slew of other legal cases, from divorce, child custody, alimony, estate issues such as wills, criminal law, and many more. We aim to help you in all of your legal matters in order to gain the most favorable outcomes. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at commercial defamation, or disparagement. Contact us today for a free consultation!


Business or commercial defamation is when someone speaks untruths about a business, either in person or in writing, with the express purpose of deterring others from patronizing that business. This can be broadened and can be anything that is meant to harm someone, such as disparaging a piece of property by saying it was a meth lab when, in fact, it wasn’t. Other names for business or commercial defamation include slander of goods, trade libel, unfair competition, or ruining a competitive advantage. Defamation can also be against the products themselves that the business offers.

Commercial disparagement exists to ensure fair competition in a free market place. If your business has faced defamation, give Tate Bywater a call, and set up a free consultation. You could lose your business if you don’t.


Again, the burden of proof rests on the plaintiff. Much like personal disparagement, commercial disparagement requires certain conditions to be met:

  • Falsehoods stated or written
  • Intent to cause harm by inducing a financial loss
  • A financial loss does indeed occur as a result of the slander

What Is the Difference Between Individual Defamation and Commercial Defamation?

  • Personal defamation is intent on harming the person via harming their reputation, which then can have a financial impact. Anyone can file a personal defamation claim.
  • Commercial defamation is intent on harming a company’s financials.


Food disparagement laws (also known as veggie libel laws or food libel laws) are for the food industry to protect themselves against those who defame their food. Saying you don’t like a food is an opinion. However, when you say a particular food is made from poison when it’s not, then you are guilty of defamation. Tate Bywater’s civil litigation lawyers note that food disparagement laws are for food manufacturers, producers, and processors. However, it is much easier to prove defamation for veggie libel laws. However, currently only 13 states have these in place.


Oprah made the mistake in 1998 of speaking disparaging about beef and mad cow disease. As a result, beef futures fell, as did beef prices. She was sued and was ultimately found not liable. However, this is a great example of how powerful your words are and just how far-reaching they can be once you put your words out there.


In today’s world of internet usage, it is so easy for people to say things about your business that aren’t true, and the next thing you know, they go viral, leading to thousands of dollars in lost revenue or more. While a little defamation should be expected (although Tate Bywater does by no means condone defamation of any sort), when it starts to cause you lost business that is when you must act.

If everyone lets disparagers go, then the internet might as well be the Wild West where anything goes, including speaking and writing untruths about your business. It’s so very important to stand up for your business so the Wild West precedent is not set.

Tate Bywater can help you do just that by offering top-notch civil litigation representation to put an end to your commercial disparagement once and for all. Our exceptional law firm staff is known for never giving up. We go to bat for all of our clients. Contact our civil litigation lawyers today!