Product comparisons and tests have always been an effective advertising means of attracting attention. It is also an effective way of differentiating products from others. Numerous manufacturers, dealers and advertisers take advantage of this fact on the Internet.
Product tests are also very widespread on so-called niche sites. These are websites such as Smart Shopper USA that are often dedicated to a specific niche. They have specific domains then use search engine optimization to target certain keywords. They earn money through advertising by clicking on this website or through affiliate links by redirecting visitors. The niche sites offer numerous operators such an opportunity to generate regular income with relatively little effort.
Current reports on fake test sites and fictitious product comparisons or initial warnings against the operators of such niche sites lead to discussions in the industry about what should actually be considered from a legal point of view. They discuss what risks actually threaten.
Smart Shopper USA: Legal requirements for product comparisons and test pages
The law against unfair competition is primarily intended to protect consumers. It also protects other competitors, from misleading advertising claims.
Any commercial act that contains false information about essential characteristics of the advertised goods or services is misleading and therefore illegal. A purely made-up product comparison or test is therefore unlawful if only because it was not carried out.
But be careful. For the rules of the law against the unfair competition to be applicable, any action in business dealings is sufficient. As soon as the operator of the respective website on which the product comparison or test can be found pursues its own economic interest with the website. One can already assume a business transaction and thus the applicability of the unfair competition. Under these conditions, one can certainly not assume a pure consumer test.
Law against the unfair competition: Legal risks in niche sites, product tests or comparisons
Anyone who pursues economic interests with their own website is usually subject to the law against unfair competition. According to the case law, it is basically sufficient if money is earned with affiliate links or advertising. It does not matter whether a student with a corresponding niche site increases his pocket money, a blogger links a third-party shop for an affiliate commission or a manufacturer advertises or offers his products directly for sale.