It’s likely you’ve observed cases of product disparagement in the past, but maybe not understood what it means and appreciated how detrimental and dangerous of a business tactic it can be. Product disparagement is a false statement or opinion about a product presented as fact in order to harm the image of a company. Despite free speech, this violates common law when the false statement or opinion is intentionally presented as fact. Companies should always take the high road when commenting on a competitor’s product. Not only is it legally dangerous to do otherwise, but your customers (and professional peers) will appreciate and respect you for it.
Here are some things you should never do:
- intensionally misrepresent another companies product or service
- use another company’s logo in a slanderous way
- altering another companies materials or advertisements
- posting fake comments, reviews, or ratings about a competitor’s product
A claim can often be made against companies and individuals doing these things if it can be proven that the accusation is false, that the accuser knew it was false and still took action, that the accuser intended to harm the business, and that the action did indeed harm the business. There are other factors to take into account such as court-recognized statements, so definitely contact a lawyer if this is an issue affecting your company.
It’s a shame that we live in a world where this an issue. Let’s work on changing that. Let’s use better business practices. From now on, do your part in encouraging those around you to avoid slanderous and unkind comments about their competitors. Take the high road. Not only is it dangerous to do otherwise, but it’s not the right thing to do. Your customers will value your moral business stance and reward you for it. As Dale Carnegie says, “Criticism of others is futile and if you indulge in it often you should be warned that it can be fatal to your career.” He understood better than any that “any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do.”
Source: “Badmouth vodka at your own risk” by Molly O’Leary, Idaho Business Review