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'AdWords' and Trade Mark infringement online

View profile for Karen Edwards
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Lush, the cosmetics company that began in Poole High Street in the 1990’s, has just taken on Amazon, the online retailer and won. Lush’s trademark infringement claim against Amazon’s misuse of its brand has been upheld by the High Court of England and Wales.

Lush Cosmetics accused Amazon of using its brand to direct online buyers to other brands of cosmetics, although Lush does not sell their products on Amazon’s site. Karen EdwardsCommercial solicitor says, “Shoppers were led into thinking that they were buying genuine Lush products when in fact they were not.”

With the dominance of search engines over the online retail markets this is an important issue. The use of trade marks as an ‘adword’ is a matter which has been litigated on before, most notably when Interflora sued Marks and Spencer to protect the Interflora brand. Interflora sued Marks and Spencer for trade mark infringement on the basis that M & S’s selection of the term ‘Interflora’ as a Google adword was liable to create confusion amongst internet users. Interflora argued that the use of their name did not make clear whether the goods displayed in the Marks and Spencer ‘advert’ online, originated from the proprietor of the trade mark (Interflora) or from a third party (M & S).

Google has since clarified their position on use of a trade mark owned by a third party as an ‘adword’. If a trade mark owner files a complaint with Google about the use of their trade mark as an ‘adwords’, Google will investigate and may enforce certain restrictions on the use of that trade mark as an adwords.

Our Commercial team, based in Christchurch also cover Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and Karen or a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.