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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

COPPA Update: Ask and Ye Shall Receive…Actual Knowledge

Online services that ask for the age of users as part of the registration process will be deemed to have “actual knowledge” of that information. Whether or not one’s site is directed to children, a registration process that...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

Yikes, Yelp! Targeted In FTC’s Stepped Up Enforcement of Children’s Privacy – General Audience Services Take Heed

Signaling a predicted renewal of enforcement of the federal children’s privacy law following broad expansion last year of who and what is covered by the rules, the FTC has filed and settled two recent law suits against mobile...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

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

Doctor’s Slapp at Yelp Reviewer Largely Dismissed by DC Superior Court

Yelp, and websites like it, have certainly added to the development of law in the First Amendment area. The Virginia Supreme Court is poised to decide the standard for unmasking anonymous commentators on websites like Yelp. ...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

Week in Review

Some high profile companies, including two technology giants, made headlines this week after former employees filed lawsuits against them alleging discrimination and harassment. The case against Yahoo is likely to be...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

Week in Review

How did you commute to work this morning? Google's self-driving car prototype unveiled this week may soon change your answer. Google is hoping that, within the next decade, these cars may alleviate the most miserable part...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

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

Yahoo and Yelp Team Up for Local Search

Yahoo has announced a partnership with Yelp to boost its local search service. Soon, Yahoo will start showing Yelp’s listings and reviews of local businesses as you access Yahoo Local. The changes should roll out in the...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

Yelp Denied Attempt to Keep Its Online Reviewers’ Identities Anonymous

In 2012, a local rug cleaning company in Virginia, Hadeed Oriental Rug Cleaning (“Hadeed”), filed a defamation action against the authors of seven critical reviews it received on Yelp, indicating that the reviews falsely...more

Help! I’ve Been Slammed on Yelp!

“Order the hamburgers at Donna’s Diner if you like salty, dried out burgers dripping in ketchup and onions to try to give them some flavor. Don’t go there unless you have a strong stomach and you like sticky seats or surly...more

Corporate Law Report: U.S. Manufacturing, Social Media, Online Endorsements, Hart Scott Rodino, More [Video]

Watch our latest Corporate Law Report for: a word of caution from Pillsbury on using endorsement as part of your online advertising; enforcement predictions for 2013 from Mike Volkov; social media for global corporations from...more

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