What to do if I recently opened a martial arts school and people from another school are trying to spread negative information about me?

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What to do if I recently opened a martial arts school and people from another school are trying to spread negative information about me?

They are telling people that I am claiming certain credentials, which I am not, and that I am a fraud. They have made the statement that they will “pay me a visit soon”, which I think sounds like some type of threat. Is there anything that can be done? Also, I’ve already contacted them with a cease and desist letter, and they refuse. My issue is that they will potentially prevent me from having customers. They are also students and coaches from another martial arts school.

Asked on October 2, 2012 under Business Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If they are making untrue factual statements about you, which harm your reputation, they are committing defamation, and you could sue them for compensation and/or a court order requiring them to desist. (It must be untrue factual statements--opinions, like "His martial arts suck," or true facts, even if negative, like "He does not teach ground fighting at all"--assuming you don't teach ground fighting--are not defamation.)

If they are threatening, intimidating, or harassing potential customers, they are commiting tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, and you again could sue them.

If they are threatening you, you may have grounds to press charges or seek a protective order.

You may well have legal recourse; you should consult with an attorney about how best to protect your interests.


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