The expertise of MMR’s President, Dr. Bruce Isaacson, was cited favorably in a court ruling issued December 6. The case is Demetriades v. Yelp, Inc., Case No. BC 484055 (Cal. Superior Ct. Dec. 6, 2019), which was filed in 2012 by a Mammoth Lakes restaurant against online review platform Yelp. The plaintiff accused Yelp of false advertising, arguing that Yelp was not telling the whole truth when it claimed that its reviews were “unbiased and accurate”; “trustworthy and useful”; and filtered to remove reviews that are not trustworthy. Dr. Isaacson and MMR were retained to review the work of the plaintiff’s survey expert, who surveyed consumers about what Yelp communicated about its review filtering process in certain marketing messages.
Judge Teresa Beaudet of the Los Angeles Superior Court cited Dr. Isaacson’s testimony on the matter as one reason for ruling in favor of Yelp: “With regard to the use of the ‘no exposure’ control under the circumstances of this case, the Court finds the testimony of Dr. Isaacson to be persuasive.”
The opinion goes on to summarize Dr. Isaacson’s testimony, which points to ways that the control used by the plaintiff’s survey expert fell short of best practices, and suggests ways to design strong controls for that survey. The judge goes on to find in favor of Yelp (the client of our law firm client) on this point: “The Court finds that the ‘no exposure’ control, under the circumstances outlined above, did not lead to survey results that were persuasive with regard to whether the Challenged Statements… were false or misleading.”
Professor Eric Goldman of Santa Clara University School of Law goes into more detail about the case on his Technology & Marketing Law Blog.
Congratulations to Yelp and its legal team on this long-fought victory. If you’re in a similar situation, MMR offers expert testimony, rebuttals, and other services in litigation over false advertising, secondary meaning, trademark dilution and more. Contact us today to discuss how we can help.