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Judge Allows Yelp to Sue Firm That Claimed to Remove ‘Bad’ Reviews

Yelp, reviews

Yelp can continue a trademark infringement and unfair competition lawsuit against a company that advertised that it could remove “bad” reviews from the platform.

A judge ruled Thursday (June 6) that Yelp can pursue these claims against ReviewVio, which does business as Dandy, Reuters reported Friday (June 7).

Yelp said its reputation was harmed by ReviewVio’s ads that included the Yelp logo and suggested that businesses could pay to artificially inflate their ratings on the business review website, according to the report.

The company said the ads reduced the usefulness of its website to consumers and cost Yelp ad revenue because companies paid for ReviewVio’s offerings or incorrectly believed that Yelp endorsed them, the report said.

In the court’s decision, the judge ruled that there was sufficient evidence that Yelp’s allegations were accurate and that Yelp can seek damages for ReviewVio’s alleged misrepresentations to businesses, per the report. However, the judge said that Yelp cannot seek damages for misrepresentations to consumers.

ReviewVio had asked the judge to dismiss the case, saying that there was no evidence that its actions were “immoral” or “unethical.”

Following the ruling, a ReviewVio lawyer, Jenifer Wallis, told Reuters that the judge’s decision to exclude Yelp’s allegations of harm to consumers “substantially limits” its damage claims.

“ReviewVio maintains that Yelp’s suit is without merit and will continue to aggressively litigate this case,” Wallis said in the report.

Yelp Associate Legal Director James Daire said in the report that the company was pleased with the judge’s ruling, per the report.

“The court has recognized the harm caused by practices like review gating, which deceptively cultivates positive reviews on public platforms and diverts criticisms to private channels,” Daire said in the report.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a policy guidance in March 2022 saying that it may be illegal to post fake reviews or forbid customers from publishing honest reviews.

PYMNTS Intelligence has found that when it comes to choosing a restaurant, online reviews and social media platforms have become vital tools for consumers.

Nearly half of restaurant goers are more likely to order from restaurants after reading positive reviews, according to “Connected Dining: Word of Mouth in the Digital Age.”