Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Goods and Services in the Digital Age

Demetriades v. Yelp, No. B247151 (July 24, 2014)

A restaurant proprietor sued Yelp for false advertising, claiming that Yelp’s statements about the quality and accuracy of its review filtering software were false and misleading. Yelp responded with an anti-SLAPP motion, arguing that the statements were protected activity under Code of Civil Procedure § 425.16(e). But according to the court, that doesn’t matter, because the statements at issue fall within the commercial speech exception in § 425.17(c). The exception applies when (i) defendant is in the business of selling goods or services, (ii) the statements at issue are statements of fact about those goods or services, (iii) the statements were made for the purpose of procuring a transaction in those goods and services, and (iv) the statements are directed to likely consumers of defendant’s goods or services. Those requirements were satisfied here. Although user reviews posted on Yelp are generally outside the exception, Yelp's statements about the quality of its own filtering software are not. The latter are clearly aimed at encouraging businesses to buy ads on the Yelp platform.


Reversed.

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