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torts:slander-of-goods

Slander of Goods

An untrue statement, disparaging a man's goods, published without lawful occasion, and causing him special damage is actionable1) although no imputation is cast on the plaintiff's private or professional character. It is not necessary to prove actual malice, it is sufficient if it be made without reasonable cause.

To maintain an action for slander of goods three things should be proved:

  1. That the defendant had disparaged plaintiff's goods;
  2. That such disparagement was false; and
  3. That damage had resulted or was likely to result.2)

It is not actionable for a man to commend his own goods, or to advertise that he can make as good articles as any other person in the trade.3) A statement by a trader that his own goods are superior to those of another trader, even if untrue and the cause of loss to the other trader, gives no cause of action. An allegation that such statement was made maliciously could not convert a statement prima facie lawful into one prima facie unlawful; and proof of special damage would be of no avail.4)

Publication of placards and circulars containing false statements injurious to trade can be restrained by injunction.5)

Case Law

W, proprietor of V's food for infants, brought from M and sold to his customers M's infants' food. W was in the habit of affixing to the wrappers on M's food a label stating that V's food was far more nutritious and healthful than any other. Held, that W's conduct did not amount to a trade libel, but was merely a puff by a rival trader.6)

1)
Western Counties Manure Co. v. Lawes Chemical Manure Co.
2) , 6)
White v. Mellin
3)
Harman v. Delany
4)
Hubbuck & Sons v. Wilkinson
5)
Collard v. Marshall


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