Don’t Mess Around With Fake Online Reviews
We all know that if you are selling products online, customer reviews are one of the most important things you can have on your site that sells your product or service. And in many cases, those reviews are anonymous. That opens the door to manipulation, and the creation of fake reviews.
The government may be cracking down, but your trouble may not just be with the government. Your competitors could even sue you for fake reviews—and not just for talking badly about their products, either. You can actually be sued for posting fake, positive reviews about your own products, even if those reviews are on your own websites or social media pages.
The Lanham Act
This is all because of a law known as the Lanham Act, a law that is best known for trademark and other intellectual property infringement. Many people aren’t aware that the Lanham Act actually goes beyond intellectual property.
The Lanham Act allows your competitors to sue you for posting reviews that are fake, or which may be true, but which are so misleading, that the effect on readers or consumers is that they are fake.
You can be sued just for saying positive things about your own product or service. That doesn’t mean you can’t say good things about your products—it just means you can’t do so in the form of a customer review that is fake.
So, certainly you could say that your product is “better than the competitors.” You just couldn’t post a made-up review from a person that doesn’t exist saying “I tried both products and product A was so much better!”
And yes you can be sued for posting fake positive reviews about yourself, even if those reviews don’t mention, name or identify competitors.
Manipulating the System
Your liability goes beyond just posting false reviews. Even real reviews can get you sued, if they are manipulated, or coerced.
So, offering people an incentive to post a positive review could be seen as manipulative, and thus, illegal. Asking people to “vote” on certain reviews (presumably, the good ones), to boost those reviews to the top, could get you in trouble, if you are offering an incentive that could be seen as payment or some kind of remuneration.
Fake review sites can get you in trouble as well. These are sites that look like a neutral source is trying out and reviewing a variety of products. Surprise—the owner of the website’s product is the “winner.” The consumer never knows that the site is not a neutral review by some unbiased reviewer, but rather, the site is set up by a company, for the purpose of appearing neutral and that company’s product is of course going to “win the competition.”
Call our Fort Lauderdale business lawyers at Sweeney Law P.A. at 954-440-3993 today to help your business do business, while also staying out of legal trouble.