As good Yelp reviews have the power to make or break a business, the website takes the ranking and filtering of user reviews very seriously, and does what it can to stop those from gaming the system. That’s why Yelp has filed a civil suit against the individuals behind three sites that promise listed businesses to get them a large number of 4 and 5 star ratings from customers, as well as get them to stick to the front page. The sites targeted by the suit include Revleap, YelpDirector, and Revpley.
The lawsuit was filed in a California federal court last week and accuses the sites of false advertising, unfair competition, trademark infringement, and contract interference. Yelp’s complaint says that Revleap and the other sites would target businesses and tell them that they had invented software that could “generate a large number of 4 and 5 star reviews from your customers,” as well as filter out 3 star and below reviews and prevent them from being posted online.
Yelp has pointed out that the defendants cannot fulfill these promises, and a previous cease-and-desist notice asked YelpDirector to stop using the site’s name and trademark, as well as making promises to “filter” or alter customer reviews. YelpDirector previously said it would oblige the cease-and-desist, but then began doing the same thing under the Revleap and Revpley names.
When it came time to getting those positive reviews from users, Revleap’s methods included e-mail surveys and raffles to win gift cards. Yelp is arguing that these sites’ promises give the impression that there is an affiliation with the review site, as well as encourage users to violate Yelp’s Terms of Service.
Yelp spokesman Vince Sollitto wrote on the company blog that they hope to stop misleading practices from Revleap, and “help businesses distinguish between companies that are playing by the rules and those that are using Yelp’s name to make a dollar by taking advantage of unsuspecting small businesses.”