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Businesses can protect their brands against negative reviews

As more companies rely on consumer statements on social media, the more that consumers forget that their comments can land them in hot water. A negative rant about a product on Amazon.com has raised the ire of a company that sells products on the site. A man in Florida was so dissatisfied with an Internet router he purchased that he took to Reddit.com to complain about it. Through his post, he asked for legal advice on how to resolve his problem. A law firm from Philadelphia replied, but it was not what the man expected. 

Instead, the law firm threatened to sue the man because it believed that his statements were “false, defamatory, libelous and slanderous and constitute trade libel.” The firm also accused the man of pursuing “an illegal campaign to damage, discredit, defame and libel” the company that made the router.

While it may appear that the company is just singing a song of sour grapes, the situation presents an interesting question as to whether consumers may be sued by companies for negative reviews. As it turns out, retailers have every right to seek compensation from consumers who post negative and false reviews that disparage their products or services.

In fact, the immediate situation is not been the first time that a reviewer has been sued. A Virginia state court held in favor of a contractor who was accused of stealing jewelry from a customer’s home (when he did not) in addition to doing a poor job on the home.

So if you are a company in California and believe that your brand has been unfairly criticized and potentially damaged by a false, negative reviews on the Internet, you may be able to take legal action. 

Source: NationalJournal.com “This guy may get sued over an Amazon review,” Matt Vasilogambros, May 7, 2014

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