User Review Portability: Why and How?

17 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2018 Last revised: 2 Jul 2018

See all articles by Vikas Kathuria

Vikas Kathuria

Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition

Jessica C. Lai

Victoria University of Wellington

Date Written: June 27, 2018


User reviews of products on the e-commerce platforms are a critical determinant of inter-platform competition, as a large number of consumers base their product choice on the related reviews by other users. The network effects between the number of reviews and new users give a sustainable competitive advantage to the incumbent platforms. While the business literature has recognized the commercial value of the user reviews, legal scholarship has paid little heed to level the playing field between incumbents and new e-commerce platforms by exploring the portability of user reviews. This paper bridges this gap. We explore the possibility of porting user reviews through two legal mechanisms—first, traditional Intellectual Property law; second, the new Right to Data Portability (RtDP) as enshrined in the GDPR. After recognizing the limitation of these mechanisms in enabling portability of reviews, we suggest that pure data aggregators, such as Personal Information Management Services (PIMS), are best placed to make user reviews available to multiple platforms.

Keywords: User Reviews, Reputation System, Right to Data Portability, Article 20 of GDPR, Intellectual Property, Personal Information Management Services (PIMS)

JEL Classification: [comma separated]K21, O34, L81

Suggested Citation

Kathuria, Vikas and Lai, Jessica C., User Review Portability: Why and How? (June 27, 2018). TILEC Discussion Paper No. 2018-023, Available at SSRN: or

Vikas Kathuria (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition ( email )

Marstallplatz 1
Munich, Bayern 80539

Jessica C. Lai

Victoria University of Wellington ( email )

PO Box 600
New Zealand

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