Online trade libel lawsuits are on the rise thanks to consumer review websites like Yelp, Ripoff Report, and TripAdvisor.
The rise in cases has many people asking: “Are these lawsuits fair?” and “Don’t First Amendment protections render most Internet defamation cases moot?” To answer: Yes and No.
The Difference Between Free Speech and Defamation
Sure, it’s 100% legal, for you, me, and everyone we know, to shout-type negative opinions online. But what isn’t legal is publicly lying about a business or person. Doing so is considered defamatory, and people who engage in the practice can be successfully sued by the parties they besmirch.
What If My Competitor Is The Person Posting A Bad Review?
Sometimes, though, online disparagement isn’t the work of actual customers, but instead the marketing machinations of a competitor.
Yep: Some people pay marketers to write disparaging fake reviews; some business owners convince friends to act as “Salieris of Defamation.” Either way, it’s an underhanded trick that flies in the face of compliance standards.
If You Can Prove A Competitor Is Behind A Bad Review, Your Chances Of Winning A Trade Libel Lawsuit Skyrocket
The great news: it’s much easier to win a trade libel lawsuit if you can prove a competitor is the puppet master behind a bad online review. If you suspect a competitor is behind a spate of negative press targeting your business, consider taking action.
Contact An Trade Libel Lawyer
Fake, defamatory consumer reviews are unfair competition at its worst. Contact Kelly / Warner if you’re the target of an attack.