Online Reviews

News & Analysis as of

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

Managing a Company’s Online Reputation Doesn’t Need to be Risky Business

Research shows that positive reviews on online review sites such as Yelp are actively driving consumer’s buying behaviors. And there’s no surprise that negative reviews have also have an impact. ...more

District Court Allows Claims to Proceed Against Ripoffreport.com For Copyright Infringement And “Unfair or Deceptive” Acts In...

We previously reported on the unique cyber dilemma faced by Richard Goren, a Massachusetts attorney. Back in 2012, a disgruntled former client of Goren’s logged onto the consumer review site, and posted an outlandish – and...more

Crowd-Sourced Review Website May Incur Lanham Act Liability For Selectively Deleting Reviews

Today’s consumers depend on “crowd-sourced” review websites like Angie’s List and Yelp, which permit users to post and read reviews of goods and services. Businesses feel a corresponding pressure to encourage favorable...more

Courtney Love, Yelp and Internet libel: Nevermind, it’s not a trend

Courtney Love goes to trial, in a suit by her former attorney, based on a social media message that accused the attorney of being “bought off.” A Yelp user and the contractor she criticized go at each other in court over...more

Legal Perspective on Negative Online Reviews: What Both Sides Should Consider Before Jumping Into the Fray

We recently asked: for customers and businesses alike, what should we know about libel and defamation (and the legal pitfalls of online rants in general) before we post negative comments online? Here’s what we heard back....more

Back From The Land Of Trial Mode: January Quicklinks

There has not been much activity on the blog because we have been engaged in a long copyright and misappropriation of trade secrets trial. So, we share with you some of the articles we have been reading, but just haven’t had...more

Advertising Law -- Jan 24, 2014

SPECIAL FOCUS: Exploring the Ony Decision and Its Impact on False Advertising Claims Involving Scientific Findings - Last year, the Second Circuit issued an opinion in Ony, Inc. v. Cornerstone Therapeutics, Inc., a...more

A Tough Assignment: The Use of Copyright Law to Squelch, and Preserve, Negative Online Reviews of Doctors and Lawyers

There are few things more terrifying to a doctor, lawyer or other professional than a bad online review. Online reviews are frequently uncivil, often indelible and in some cases outright false. Meanwhile, Section 230 of the...more

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