Online Reviews

News & Analysis as of

Hurdles to Bringing a Defamation Suit for an Online Review

Courts and the legislature alike have made it difficult for doctors and business owners of all kinds to succeed on a defamation claim for an online review, often treating these lawsuits as attempts to silence freedom of...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

Negative Online Reviews- What Amounts to Defamation?

Online review can impact a medical practice more than ever in today’s digital world and no one is policing what patients post online or how truthful it is. All it takes is a cell phone and in a few minutes a review can be...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

Internet Free-Speech and the Push Towards Unmasking Online Anonymity

Internet heavyweights including Google, Facebook, and Twitter are backing the popular business review site Yelp in a Virginia Supreme Court case that has gained country-wide attention as having the potential to significantly...more

Ninth Circuit Knocks Down Unfair Competition Case against Yelp!

For those few of you who don’t know already, Yelp! (“Yelp”) is a wildly popular website where people can share their reviews, opinions, experiences, and ratings of businesses across the country. This service is invaluable...more

NARB Panel Cautions Use of Online Consumer Reviews to Substantiate Claims

A recent ruling by the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) cautions companies about using online customer reviews to support "most recommended" claims, reminding advertisers that are eager to leverage customer feedback...more

Advertising Law - Oct 2014

FTC Mows Down Astroturfing at Yahoo - The Federal Trade Commission has closed an investigation into “astroturfing” by Yahoo employees and declined to take enforcement action because of the limited number of workers...more

Digital Marketing Minute: A Bad Review for Yelp

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced last week that Yelp – the online service through which consumers can read and write reviews about local businesses, has agreed to pay $450,000 to settle the FTC’s charges that Yelp...more

Litigation Alert: California Bans Non-Disparagement Clauses in Consumer Contracts

On September 9, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 2365, popularly referred to as the “Yelp” bill. The new law, codified at California Civil Code section 1670.8, will prohibit the use of “non-disparagement” clauses...more

Breaking News: The COPPA Enforcement Actions Are Here!

As we predicted in prior blog posts, the Federal Trade Commission has begun its vigorous enforcement of the Amended COPPA Rule. And one of the players is not a child-related site, so read on. The Commission just announced ...more

New California Law Strengthens Consumers’ Right to Post Online Reviews

Earlier this month, California became the first state to pass legislation that further protects a consumer’s right to post a truthful review online. AB-2365, authored by State Assemblyman John A. Perez, was signed by Governor...more

Status Updates - September 2014 #4

..Disappearing ink. Facebook is testing, for a small group of users, a feature that will permit a user to schedule a post for automatic deletion after a specified period of time. It seems that the period can range from an...more

Website Marketing Statements: The Achilles’ Heel to CDA Protection?

It’s no secret that local directory/consumer review websites are popular among consumers looking for recommendations before dining out, hiring a contractor, or even picking a dentist or day spa. Yelp reported around 138...more

Unmasking the anonymous online critic – first, there is the matter of jurisdiction

On Friday, the Supreme Court of Texas issued a 5-4 decision holding a plaintiff needs to establish jurisdiction over an anonymous blogger before a court will allow pre-suit discovery that would likely unmask the blogger’s...more

Status Updates - September 2014 #2

Lawsuit panned by Court. The popular ratings app Yelp has been cleared by a federal appeals court of allegations in a class action lawsuit that the company extorted advertising dollars from businesses by threatening to remove...more

Week in Review

Some popular online services made legal headlines this week. After years of litigation, a federal appeals court held that Yelp did not extort businesses by manipulating user reviews to coerce advertising purchases. While Yelp...more

How Not To Market Your Business Online (Even If It Works): Claims Against Fake Review Sites And Stolen Obituary Photos Survive...

Despite celebrity endorsements from the likes of Dennis Miller and Alan Thicke, all that glitters isn’t gold when it comes to the marketing of precious metal investments. In March 2014, American Bullion, Inc., which is in the...more

Creating Fake Customer Reviews Site Could Be False Advertising and Trade Libel

As evidenced by the success and robust market capitalization of the consumer review site Yelp, Internet users are increasingly turning to "regular people" as a lodestar for whether to purchase goods or services. This is...more

Dealing with the Dangers of Online Reviewing

Law tries to find the line between protecting speech and punishing defamation - Online review websites, such as Yelp or Angie’s List, have become a common forum for griping. They give a voice to past customers to...more

Reviews Posted Under a Pseudonym Could be Defamatory

As written on this blog before, plaintiffs often have difficulty when alleging claims of defamation against anonymous defendants. Unsurprisingly, websites that provide a forum for anonymous commentary are loathe to reveal the...more

Virginia Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Appeal in Yelp Users Defamation Case

Yelp.com (Yelp) labels itself an "online urban guide." Specifically, the website allows users to write reviews about experiences at businesses they've visited. It also permits users to browse the posted reviews. The...more

Outlook 2014: Untruthful posts to consumer review websites could result in lawsuits

Q. Are customer comments posted on consumer review websites protected speech under the First Amendment or are individuals who post opinions potentially subjecting themselves to a libel lawsuit? A. While the First...more

Online Reputation Protection and Repair

Arriving at his warehouse last week Knott Faire, owner of Faire Carpet Cleaning, discovered yet another complaining critique posted on WELP: “Lots of hype, a mediocre cleaning and a hassle at the end. Don’t get tied up with...more

Proposed California Legislation Would Limit and Possibly Punish Non-Disparagement Clauses in Online Consumer Contracts

On Tuesday, April, 22, the California Assembly Judiciary Committee voted 10-0 to approve a so-called “Yelp bill” that would prohibit companies from suppressing negative consumer reviews through the use of “non-disparagement...more

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