The online travel agency has stepped up its threat against online brands whose messaging or actions it believes will confuse consumers.
Following news from the High Court that Virgin Holidays had been served with a document demanding damages over copyright infringement, lastminute.com denied the move is a publicity stunt.
Virgin Holidays’ retained agency Spike Digital created a website – dontleaveituntilthelastminute.com – to drive traffic to the operator’s homepage – a move which upset lastminute.com’s lawyers and prompted the legal action against Virgin (rather than SD).
A lastminute.com spokeswoman said: “We’re flattered they tried to use our strong brand, but there is only one lastminute.com.”
A string of other online firms using the words ‘lastminute’ have sprung up over the years, including last-minute.com, lastminuteholidays.com and golastminute.com, all of which are small operations and have no links to the Sabre-owned OTA.
“We take it seriously if any brand tries to mislead our customers so will take action against any brand if we suspect trademark infringement,” a spokeswoman said.
Lastminute.com would not confirm if the three new sites – or any others – would be served with legal papers in the future.
A decision whether to take action would depend on the country where it is registered and the existing trademark laws in that territory, the spokeswoman continued.
“We proactively continue to protect our brand/trade marks against anyone attempting to take advantage of our reputation for instance we continue to monitor and stop anyone bidding on our trade marks in Google,” she said.
In response to the legal action served this week, Virgin Holidays said it was “disappointed” at lastminute.com’s decision and “totally refute” the claims made against it.
Andrew Shelton, marketing director for Virgin Holidays, said: “True to our brand’s reputation as a customer champion, we’re giving useful information about some of the benefits of booking early with us.
“In this tough climate for consumers, where market research shows that they are still hanging onto the two week break, it’s important that we support them by sharing these early booking advantages. If they’re only going away once, it has to deliver – on price, availability and choice.”