Amazon Sues to Block Fake Reviews

April 14, 2015

fake-reviewsFake glowing reviews, intended to boost consumer confidence and hopefully increase sales, have long been a problem for popular websites that rely on such reviews. Now, one of those major websites has decided to take legal action. Last week, Amazon filed a lawsuit in Washington state court against four websites that Amazon alleges publish fraudulent reviews in exchange for payment.

What unprecedented steps has Amazon decided to take to combat these alleged fake reviews?

In the suit, Amazon accuses the defendant websites of violating Washington’s Consumer Protection Act, the federal Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, and related false advertising. Amazon has also alleged trademark infringement in connection with displaying Amazon’s logo and using domain names that are confusingly similar to that of Amazon.  The suit claims that the owner of the websites told his customers that they could ship empty boxes to trick Amazon into thinking that the reviewers were trustworthy, verified buyers in order to evade Amazon’s detection systems. Amazon further alleges that the defendants would post fraudulent four or five star reviews in exchange for $19-$22 per review. Amazon maintains that while small in number, the phony reviews threaten to undermine the integrity of its marketplace insofar as the fake reviews negatively impact sellers on the site that do not pay for reviews, dilute Amazon’s brand and threaten to undermine consumer trust in the marketplace as a whole.

Be Wary of the Perils of Peddling Fake Reviews

Amazon’s lawsuit would appear to open up a new legal front in the fight against fraudulent online reviews. We have previously written of the risks presented to companies that feature paid endorsements of products that are otherwise presented as independent and impartial reviews. Such practices have drawn the scrutiny of federal regulators. Advertisers should be wary of the conflation of marketing and blogs, social media, and customer review websites, given the increasing vigilance of companies and regulators in policing reviews and testimonials that extoll the virtues of a given product.   Under the circumstances, online marketplaces should always make sure that disclosures are used to communicate that particular reviewers are being paid, or otherwise stand to gain by providing testimonials.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, or need to review your Internet marketing practices and procedures, please e-mail us at, or call us at (212) 246-0900.

The material contained herein is provided for information purposes only and is not legal advice, nor is it a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. Each situation is unique, and you should not act or rely on any information contained herein without seeking the advice of an experienced attorney.

Attorney Advertising

Similar blog posts:

Flogs, Farticles and F. . .liability

Promotional Marketing Concerns Associated with Online and Mobile Media

Supplement Purveyors Sued for Deceptive Weight Loss Claims on Fake News Sites



David Klein

David Klein is one of the most recognized attorneys in the technology, Internet marketing, sweepstakes, and telecommunications fields. Skilled at counseling clients on a broad range of technology-related matters, David Klein has substantial experience in negotiating and drafting complex licensing, marketing and Internet agreements.
FTSA TCPA Telemarketing telemarketer note pad lawsuit

FTSA Lawsuit Update

Readers of our blog may recall a recent piece in which we discussed a Florida Telephone Solicitation Act (“FTSA”) lawsuit pending in the United States

Read More »

Trending Topics

FTSA TCPA Telemarketing telemarketer note pad lawsuit

FTSA Lawsuit Update

Readers of our blog may recall a recent piece in which we discussed a Florida Telephone Solicitation Act (“FTSA”) lawsuit pending in the United States

Read More »