On November 10, 2020, the District of Utah decided a case involving two sellers of supplements, Vitamins Online, Inc. v. Heartwise Inc. d/b/a NatureWise, which, among other things, examined defendant NatureWise’s allegedly manipulated reviews on a major online marketplace. In deciding the case, the court addressed customer reliance on reviews in their purchasing decisions.
NatureWise’s reviews appeared manipulated. For example, on one of NatureWise’s product pages, reviews were posted before the product had launched. Many reviews were from unverified purchasers that appeared within minutes of each other and gave the product 5-star ratings. Notably, 14 unverified 5-star reviews appeared on the product page within 25 minutes of each other and had similar patterns in the titles of the reviews. NatureWise’s other products similarly garnered a substantial number of positive reviews soon after their launch.