Online Reviews

News & Analysis as of

The Right to Give One-Star Reviews

Congress has taken a step toward protecting consumers’ rights to post negative reviews on websites like Ripoff Report or Yelp with the introduction, by Representative Darrell E. Issa of California, of the Consumer Review...more

FTC Clarifies Native and Online Ad Obligations

The FTC, in recent staff statements, has sought to clarify advertisers’ and publishers’ obligations regarding native advertising and social media promotions, particularly regarding when and how to clarify to readers that a...more

FTC Workshop on the Sharing Economy: Insights and Promise

Following Commissioner Ohlhausen’s opening presentation, Stanford Professor Liran Einav introduced the first morning panel. It was moderated by Nathan Wilson, Economist for the FTC’s Bureau of Economics. Panelists beyond...more

FTC Approves Final Order with AmeriFreight: Websites Must Disclose Endorsements

Earlier this year, AmeriFreight, a Georgia-based auto shipment broker, settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over charges that the company posted customer reviews on its website while failing to disclose that it had...more

Yelp Fights for the Right to Complain Anonymously

In e-commerce, user reviews can make or break a business. Review sites such as Yelp are a double edged sword for merchants and service providers: on one hand satisfied customers can generate buzz about the company and bring...more

Socially Aware - Volume 6, Issue 2 - May 2015

In This Issue: - Court Protects Anonymity of Yelp Users - FTC Issues Landmark Report on Internet of Things - Who Will Update My Status When I’m Dead?: The Biggest Social Media Platforms’ Policies on...more

YourBrand.sucks — Unless You Act Now!

As the INTA Annual Meeting winds down, one memory for me that certainly stuck out was an on-site ad campaign revolving around the new “.sucks” top-level domain (“TLD”). Depending on whom you ask, it’s either ingenious or...more

Advertising Law - May 2015

Amazon Sues Over Fake Reviews - In a new lawsuit, Amazon targeted one individual and four companies that allegedly wrote and posted fake reviews on the e-commerce giant’s site. Amazon’s Conditions of Use expressly...more

Online Advertising: When In Doubt, DISCLOSE

The FTC has approved the final order in its February complaint against AmeriFreight for failing to disclose that it compensated consumers for their online reviews. Coordinated and paid advertising campaigns that do not...more

Court Protects Anonymity of Yelp Users

Virginia’s highest court recently held that Yelp could not be forced to turn over the identities of anonymous online reviewers that a Virginia carpet-cleaning owner claimed tarnished his business....more

Advertising Law - March 2015 #5

Paying for Consumer Reviews Gets Company FTC Action - Accused of failing to disclose that it gave cash discounts to customers to post online reviews, AmeriFreight and owner Marius Lehmann agreed to a settlement with...more

Purchase .Sucks Domain?

We are all familiar with .Com, .Edu, .Mil and .Org; however, you may have noticed that these so-called “Top Level Domain” (or TLD) name extensions have been expanding. Soon the .Sucks, .Porn and .XXX suffixes will be...more

Can Comments By a Federal Employee Result in a Taking Requiring Compensation Under the Fifth Amendment?

It depends. A recent decision out of the Federal Circuit tackled this very issue, and the court’s decision strongly suggests that a taking could arise under the right circumstances. (Filler v. U.S. (Fed. Cir. Mar. 10, 2015)...more

Landmark UK Judgment Against Author of False Online Review

When Google users searched for The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., they would not be able to miss a scathing review calling Mr. Bussey a “scumbag” who “loses 80% of his cases.” Discovery revealed the disgruntled “client” to be a...more

Business Law Newsletter - March 2015

In This Issue: - Small Businesses: Responding to and Resolving Scathing (or False) Online Reviews - DWI in Your Driveway - Excerpt from DWI in Your Driveway: Drivers in the Commonwealth be...more

Advertising Law - March 2015

NAD: A Product Can’t be The “#1 Prescribed Brand” Without Other Prescribed Brands - A “#1 brand prescribed” claim implies that professionals have a choice in prescribing brands, the National Advertising Division...more

Incentivized Reviews Without Disclosure Get Panned by FTC

In the latest iteration of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) approach to testimonials and endorsements in the context of online advertising, the Commission alleged that AmeriFreight, a company that arranges the shipment of...more

Nutritious and Judicious: Nutribullet Blender False Ad Claim Survives Attack from Ninjas and Phantom Reviewers

While courts may not officially be in the business of ghostbusting, a district court in California recently offered some support to a blender manufacturer apparently haunted by a phantom reviewer. The court found that...more

Small Businesses: Responding to and Resolving Scathing (or False) Online Reviews

The Internet is a great resource for businesses to market to clientele in both an efficient and cost-effective manner. Unfortunately, the ease with which a person can use the Internet also results in the possibility of...more

Woodbridge Structured Funding LLC v. Pissed Consumer

Decision and Order of NY Appellate Division Affirming Order Dismissing Petition for Discovery of Anonymous Commenter

Decision of the Appellate Division, First Department, affirming the dismissal by the trial court in New York County which denied a petition to compel PissedConsumer.com to disclose the identity of the person or persons who...more

Social Media: 10 Fundamental Questions All Businesses Should Consider About Their Online Presence

Twenty years ago, the social media world we now live in was the stuff of science fiction. Today, social media is a critical business tool creating unprecedented opportunities for direct consumer interaction, brand awareness,...more

Employee Gripe Apps: Should Companies Be Concerned?

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article by Lindsay Gellman on a new app by Collectively that allows users to post anonymous reviews of and complaints about their employers. The app is cheekily called...more

California Bans Nondisparagement Clauses in Consumer Contracts

The “Yelp” Bill impacts any entity or person doing business with consumers in California. Those who are fans of writing product or service reviews for sites such as Yelp will be pleased that California law just made it much...more

California Supreme Court Denies Review of Ruling Allowing Restaurant Owner’s False Advertising Claims to Proceed Against Yelp

On November 12, 2014, the California Supreme Court denied review of the California Court of Appeals decision in Demetriades v. Yelp, Inc., 2014 WL 3661491 (Cal. App. July 24, 2014), which allowed a restaurant owner to proceed...more

Status Updates - November 2014 #2

..Bad chords. A European musician’s attempt to stop a negative concert review from continuing to appear in Internet search results is raising questions about whether the EU’s “right to be forgotten” ruling could prevent the...more

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