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The Lengths Merchants Will Go to Destroy Competitors

How far are some sellers willing to go to destroy competitors in an effort to boost their own sales? Ars Technica reports on a case in which an Amazon merchant, Ubervita, accuses competitors of waging a campaign of dirty tricks. These include:

  • posing as Ubervita in making false statements to Amazon.com – including making false counterfeiting complaints to Amazon so the marketplace would suspend the sale of its genuine products;
  • placing fraudulent bulk orders of Ubervita products in an effort to disrupt its inventory (the bulk orders would manipulate Amazon’s ordering system into showing products were sold out and not available for actual consumers to purchase);
  • posting as Ubervita in posting a Craigslist ad that purports to offer cash for favorable reviews of Ubervita products;
  • posting false reviews of Ubervita products.

Ubervita made these claims in a lawsuit filed against the unknown defendants, saying they violate the Lanham Act (the federal statute that governs trademarks, service marks, and unfair competition).

Ars Technical said a federal judge is allowing the company to issue subpoenas to Amazon.com and Craigslist “to cough up the identities of those behind” the campaign. That sparked a conversation in the comments about whether that would start a precedent and would deter people from leaving negative reviews about products and services online.

The lawsuit, available in PDF format in the Ars Technical story, outlines the lengths some sellers will go to destroy a competitor in an effort to boost their own sales.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.