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Trade Libel and Unfair Competition

As part of California’s laws against unfair competition, the state provides a remedy to businesses that are victims of trade libel. Trade libel constitutes published false communications regarding the quality of services of products that a business provides, resulting in financial loss to this business. Are you a victim of false representations regarding your products or services? Have you sustained financial damages as a result of these false representations? If you answered “yes” to either question, you may have a claim for trade libel against these false representations! At the Law Offices of Salar Atrizadeh, an attorney with experience and knowledge in business law and trade libel suits can help guide you through the legal remedies.

What Are the Necessary Elements of a Trade Libel Suit?

To maintain a suit for trade libel, a plaintiff must first prove that another party published a false statement. A published statement is not limited to a printed book. Indeed, “published” can include anything from communications over the internet to advertisements. While the specifics of what constitutes “published” is a controversial area of law, courts will generally find that if a third party has access to a communication, that statement is deemed published. Such a communication can be either written or spoken to satisfy this requirement. Next, the statement must actually be false. If a defendant makes a statement about a business that results in financial damages, the business cannot file a lawsuit if the statement was true. Additionally, the defendant must know that the statement is false. While there are remedies available if a defendant negligently makes statements that cause financial harm to a business, to maintain an action for trade libel, the defendant must knowingly make the false statement. The false statement must also cause financial loss to the business. Such a loss can include a loss of reputation if the business can establish that the reputational decline will lead to a loss of future business, and as such, a future financial loss. Finally, a person making a false statement must intend to communicate the statement as a fact, not merely as an opinion. Therefore, a customer who expresses an opinion that a business provides a service of a poor quality is not subject to a trade libel suit.

What Remedies Are Available In a Trade Libel Suit?

In a trade libel suit, you can seek both injunctive and pecuniary (i.e., financial or monetary) damages. The injunctive relief may ask the court to order defendant to take down the false communication. For instance, a court can order a defendant to remove a comment from an online blog regarding the business. A court may also order a defendant to stop an advertisement that constitutes trade libel. If you seek pecuniary damages, and you are successful in your lawsuit, the court can order defendant to pay you for the financial damages to the business and its reputation.

At the Law Offices of Salar Atrizadeh, we guide our clients in legal matters regarding all aspects of business litigation by using extensive knowledge and skills to create innovative solutions to protect your business. You may contact us to set up a confidential consultation.