False Advertising Through Online Reviews
Recent case law has extended the broad protections of the Lanham Act – Section 43(a) of the Trademark Act of 1946, as amended in the Trademark Law Revision Act in 1988 – to online reviews and advertising, providing liability to those that use online reviews and other online tools to make false claims regarding the goods, services, and other commercial practices of a business. Liability also extends to competitors that use online reviews and online tools to make false claims regarding their goods, services, and other commercial practices.
If a competitor is engaging in conduct to manipulate the public perception of either your products or its products, including by making false or misleading descriptions of fact in online reviews or manipulating tools and rating systems in online marketplaces-such as Amazon.com-that are typically reserved for use by consumers, you have legal rights.
The lawyers of Magleby Cataxinos & Greenwood in Salt Lake City understand the value and hard work behind the marketing of your products. It is a competitive world, and your products need protection from conduct that can harm the public perception of your products or unfairly improve the public perception of your competitors’ products. MCG lawyers have extensive experience in protecting that work. For example, in 2017, MCG prevailed in obtaining a preliminary injunction to prevent a purportedly-independent “review” website from publishing reviews and posting false information about a client’s products, when in fact there was a hidden relationship between the owner of the website and a competitor of the firm’s client:
- Purple Innovation, LLC v. Honest Reviews, LLC, No. 2:17-cv-00138-DB, Sep. 22, 2017 Order (D. Utah 2017)
As another example, the firm has experience pursuing claims based upon a competitor’s manipulation of reviews on Amazon.com, including the up- and down-voting of the “helpfulness” of good/bad reviews, providing free product in exchange for positive reviews, and manipulating the star ranking by suppressing negative reviews.
Among other legal recourses, the firm’s attorneys can help you obtain injunctive relief-requiring that the competitor ceases its conduct; damages for the financial harm incurred by you relating to the conduct; or a recovery of your competitor’s profits gained from its unlawful conduct.