In early May 2014, an Amazon customer wrote a product review on the Amazon.com web site, just as hundreds and perhaps thousands of Amazon users do every day, but with several distinct differences. The action-reaction-reaction-reaction occurred so rapidly that much of the material has already been removed and the story must be pieced together from online discussions.
The customer wrote a negative review about an internet router manufactured by Mediabridge, stating that his experience was negative, that the router was “identical” to another company’s router and that the product’s positive Amazon reviews might be phony. His review drew a swift reaction from Mediabridge’s lawyers, who threatened to sue the customer for statements that were “false, defamatory, libelous, and slanderous, constitute trade libel and place Mediabridge and its products in a false light.” In order to avoid the lawsuit, the customer had to: agree to never purchase any of their products; agree to never publicly comment online about their products; and delete the review immediately (reportedly within 3 days). Obviously no shrinking violet, the customer supposedly altered his review but also resorted to www.reddit.com, recounting the situation and welcoming donations for his anticipated legal fees.
DO’S AND DON’TS
DON’T write any online reviews at all if you wish to be completely safe.
DON’T rely on online anonymity to protect you.
DO state your reviews as opinion based on your experience.
DON’T state conjectures as facts about anything outside of your experience.
DON’T include “irrelevant, immaterial and outrageous commentary” about the product.
DO ensure that you can factually support any claims you make against a product.
Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information can not be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither the author, handelonthelaw.com, or any of its affiliates shall have any liability stemming from this article.