Online consumer opinions as evidence in trademark cases

A recent case in the Third Circuit, QUC Inc. v. Your Vitamins Inc., “casts doubt” on the reliability of blog posts and online consumer content as trademark evidence. The federal court found several problems with this genre of evidence, concluding it deserves only limited weight in the consumer confusion and false advertising analysis. The first weakness of this evidence is the pervasive use of false online identities and the known use of well-placed comments that may not be genuine or made in good faith. There is no way to verify whether the commenter or site with the content is related to an interested party or whether they are describing true events and impressions. The court clarifies that this evidence is admissible but carries concerns of authenticity and probative value. Although the internet is a strong advertising venue, its evidentiary value is weak when compared to traditional evidence such as consumer surveys, affidavits and other forms of evidence of consumer confusion and false advertising.

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