In the last 12 months, Amazon claims to have sued more than 1,000 people in a fight to stop tampering with its product review system used throughout the millions of products and services available on its Web site.
Last Friday Amazon fired off another lawsuit against a handful of product review Web sites and their operators, accusing the companies and their owners of selling falsified product and service reviews to be placed on Amazon’s Web site. The lawsuit accuses the defendant entities of trademark infringement, unfair competition, false advertising, and violations of the Anticyber¬squatting Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Consumer Protection Act, through their sale of falsified positive reviews for the Amazon Web site.
Bogus online reviews have a number of victims. If a competitor posts a fake review critical of another business, then the subject of the fake review is victimized. In every case, consumers who rely on the reviews are bamboozled by phony postings. And finally, the operator of the review site is a victim as well.
About the only thing a review site has to offer (whether it’s Amazon, Yelp, Trip Advisor, etc.) is its integrity. Users don’t go to the review site because it offers expert opinions, they go there to see a broad base of honest assessments. And if the assessments aren’t honest, then the sites don’t have much to offer. So it’s not surprising that review site operators would take action to police their sites.
The recent Amazon lawsuit demonstrates that Amazon takes the credibility of its hundreds of millions of unique customer reviews very seriously. According to the lawsuit, the falsified reviews sold by the defendant entities (with names such as “amazonreviewsstar.com” and “buyamazonreviews.info”) “threaten to undermine the trust that customers, and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers, place in Amazon, thereby tarnishing Amazon’s brand.”
The lawsuit seeks to stop the defendant Web sites from using Amazon’s trademark and to stop offering falsified reviews for sale, along with a request to help Amazon track down the sellers who purchased and posted the fake reviews. With this latest lawsuit, Amazon is keeping its promise to “continue to pursue legal action against the root cause of reviews abuse – the sellers and manufacturers who create the demand for fraudulent services – as well as the ecosystem of individuals and organizations who supply fraudulent reviews in exchange for compensation.” In other words, Amazon is hoping to shut off the supply and the demand. Can’t blame them.