Your Competitors Can Sue You For Fake and False Product Reviews
It’s no secret that most people nowadays, when making an online purchase, tend to look at online reviews, to see if the product or service they are getting works and is legitimate. But more and more, these online reviews are being manipulated.
Whether it’s a rival posting false negative reviews, or a business posting false positive reviews about itself, the manipulation and fabrication of online reviews is not only unethical—it can also get you sued.
That’s right—your competitors can actually sue you for posting false reviews.
You may have already known that you could be sued for posting false reviews about a competitor or a competitor’s services or products. But your liability and your ability to get sued, can even come from posting your own reviews, on your own website or product.
Talking About Competitors
Often, when posting fake reviews, businesses will disparage competitors. “My product works much better than Competitor X’s product!” or “I tried Competitor X’s product and it didn’t work, but this one did!”
This is also not only potentially defamatory, but it also is in violation of the Lanham Act, a law that many people think is limited to trademark law. But the Lanham act allows your competitors to sue you for things like:
- Things you say that are literally false—or which are literally true, but practically, misleading
- Reviews that purport to compare products, but which are fake or false
- Reviews that say false positive things about their own product
Many Plaintiffs aren’t aware that they can sue a competitor for saying false positive things about themselves, if the competitor isn’t actually named, but that’s just not true.
That’s right: your competitor can also sue you for posting false reviews about yourself. The liability doesn’t come from saying something positive about your product—that you can always do. It comes from masquerading that compliment as a review, when in fact, no real review actually exists.
Any manipulation of review can lead to liability. For example, offering money or other rewards for posting reviews or falsely “voting” on the helpfulness of reviews, in order to boost the good reviews to the top, can also lead to being sued by competitors.
Fake Review Sites
The liability also can come not just from fake reviews, but from the posting of fake review sites—that is, sites that look like they are neutral evaluation pages or pages that compare products, but where there is really a hidden relationship between the site and the company that “wins” the comparison of products.
The Federal Trade Commission is considering rules on fake reviews, but regardless of what they do or don’t do—manipulating reviews at all, even if you don’t mention your competitor, can lead to your competitor suing you for damages.
Call our West Palm Beach business litigation attorneys at Pike & Lustig today to keep your business out of legal trouble, and to help you with a safe marketing strategy.