Hoteliers and restaurateurs anxious to sue TripAdvisor in the U.S. over travelers' disparaging reviews may have to rethink their strategy following a legal decision involving Yelp.
A U.S. District Court judge in San Francisco earlier this week tossed out two suits against Yelp which, like TripAdvisor, features consumer-written reviews, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Part of the decision relates to TripAdvisor and part doesn't.
In the most relevant part of the decision, the judge ruled that the litigation could not proceed because Yelp enjoys protections under the Communications Decency Act of 1996.
Courts in the U.S. have repeatedly upheld protections afforded to the likes of Yelp and TripAdvisor by the Act, which provides immunity to Internet services which publish the opinions of others.
Various businesses have tried to sue TripAdvisor and other providers of user-generated content and gotten nowhere, although these legal actions keep on coming.
Within the last couple of weeks, The Grand Resort Hotel in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, reportedly sued TripAdvisor for $10 million over the property's designation as the dirtiest hotel in TripAdvisor's 2011 Dirtiest Hotels ranking.
TripAdvisor says it compiles the list based on review-writers cleanliness ratings for U.S. hotels.
Just peruse some of the photos that travelers have taken of the hotel to get an idea of why it may have merited such attention.
Meanwhile, the judge in the Yelp case also tossed the suits because the plaintiffs have not proven their allegations that Yelp was extorting advertisements from restaurants in exchange for higher rankings, according to The Wall Street Journal story.
The Yelp decision, however, can be appealed.
None of this hurts TripAdvisor's prospects as it gets ready to get spun off from Expedia into a public company.
TripAdvisor declined to comment on the Yelp case.