In its 16 May 2019 judgment, the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main held that advertising with "bought" customer reviews violates competition law.
A seller organised a lottery and promoted it on social media platform Facebook. People could participate in the lottery on the condition that they liked, commented on, and shared the relevant post.
Additionally, participants could increase their chances of winning the lottery by liking the defendant's Facebook page, and by leaving a review. The defendant subsequently incorporated these reviews in its advertising.
A competitor of the defendant considered this behaviour anticompetitive, and successfully sought a temporary injunction against it.
The Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main affirmed this temporary injunction, in response to the defendant's appeal on points of fact and law.
According to the Court, in the event that reviews are written by third parties, the average consumer would assume that these were given voluntarily. The Court stated that in the present case, it had to be assumed that a considerable proportion of these reviews had only been posted to increase the reviewers' chances of winning the defendant's lottery.
The Court added that it was also obvious that reviews given on the occasion of a lottery would be positive. According to the Court, these reviews are, in the present case, not considered "bought" reviews in the literal sense. However, they have to be regarded as unbiased and thus misleading.