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Yelp sues review websites, calls foul play

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Online review site Yelp, which aims to help people find local businesses through “honest and personal opinions,” is suing a company that offers businesses “complete review control” of customer reviews.

Alleging trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising, among other complaints, Yelp filed a civil suit on Feb. 13 against three individuals doing business as Revleap, Revpley and Yelp Director.

“While Yelp’s online reviews are a trusted resource for consumers to learn about local businesses, unfortunately some try to game the system and undermine that trust by building businesses based on fraudulent reviews, invasive spam, and conduct that otherwise violates the law as well as Yelp’s Terms of Service,” according to the civil suit.

Los Angeles-based Revleap boasts three years of success, with 1,345,762 positive reviews as of Monday morning, according to its website.

“Keep your positive reviews on the first page while pushing your negative to the back,” Revleap’s website states. “All reviews are gathered, 4 & 5 Star are posted to review platforms you designate. 3 Star and below are withheld in the Control Center for your quality control.”

Yelp first learned about the company in November 2013 when it was doing business as Yelp Director, according to the civil suit. Yelp sent a cease-and-desist order, but the company continued doing business as Revpley and Revleap.

“The business willfully infringes Yelp’s trademarks, defrauds and spams businesses that use Yelp, and seeks to undermine the integrity of Yelp’s platform,” according to the civil suit.

In an email to technology publication Ars Technica, Revleap owner Alec Farwell said “Revleap services are legal in all aspects of the law, and we specialize in only legitimate reviews from real customers. Yelp has filed completely false and unsubstantiated claims against our company. We aim to decrease defamation and increase awareness of free speech for businesses.”