Articles Posted in False Advertising

In the latest Raines Feldman cyber liability update, terms of use lawyers Erik Syverson and Stephen Farkas discuss a wave of class action lawsuits against companies based upon technical legal violations found in terms of use.  In particular, companies are getting hit for limiting punitive damages in terms of use which is against the law in New Jersey.  New Jersey consumer protection laws forbid such limitations on liability for consumer facing e-commerce sites.  This could also lead to liability in California for violating Business and Professions Code section 17200.  All companies in all industries need to take a look and revise their terms of use or risk one of these lawsuits.

E-tail behemoth Amazon recently filed a lawsuit against Jay Gentile, a California resident offering positive Amazon reviews for a price, otherwise known as “astroturfing”.  Gentile offered his service via the domain name “buyazonreviews.com”, among others.  Here is how the operation worked in a nutshell:  Mom and pop widget company desires four and five star reviews in order to increase consumer confidence and sales; Gentile’s service provides the widget seller with canned 4 and 5 star reviews over a period of months, so that the reviews appear legitimate and avoid Amazon’s review screening filter; and the reviews cost mom and pop about $20 per review.  Gentile’s company even went so far as to allegedly orchestrate phony baloney sales in order to achieve “verified” review status.

Quite naturally, Amazon isn’t too happy about all of this.  Consequently, Amazon deployed one of its go to law firms to attack Gentile in Court.  The problem is, I’m not too sure that Amazon’s lawsuit is legally viable, however, it does have significant strategic and practical value.  Because of this, I think it is likely to serve as an astroturfing deterrent.

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