Interflora adwords case ruling could help travel firms

Interflora adwords case ruling could help travel firms

Industry law firm Travlaw says a trademark infringement case covering Google adwords advertising could help travel companies.

Interflora won a case against Marks & Spencer following a lengthy series of appeals.

The long-running dispute was centred around M&S’s use of several of Interflora’s registered trademarks as part of its Google Adwords advertising.

After discovering that M&S was ‘bidding’ on its registered trademarks, Interflora commenced legal action against M&S for trademark infringement.

The case was referred to the European Court of Justice in 2009 for an opinion.

Ruling against M&S, the court finally concluded this week that the “M&S advertisements which are the subject of Interflora’s claim did not enable reasonably well-informed and reasonably attentive internet users to ascertain whether the service referred to in the advertisements originated from [M&S or Interflora].

“On the contrary, as at 6 May 2008, a significant proportion of the consumers who searched for ‘interflora’ and the other signs, and then clicked on M&S’s advertisements displayed in response to those searches, were led to believe, incorrectly, that M&S’s flower delivery service was part of the Interflora network”.

Remedies for M&S’s trademark infringement are yet to be decided.

Travlaw said: “This case is now the leading authority on the subject of trade mark infringement by competitive brand bidding in Google Adwords and is great news for the many travel companies who find themselves in the same position as Interflora – with competitors bidding on registered trademarks which they have spent years building up.

“The one thing to bear in mind however is that part of the success of Interflora’s claim against M&S was due to Interflora’s well-known franchising business model which would have made it easier for consumer confusion as to which company was offering the services.

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