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Showing posts with label trademark. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trademark. Show all posts

Metatags and Google advertisements found to be trademark infringements

In an appeal decision handed down on Friday, the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia has affirmed a trial judge's decision that metatags and Google advertisements were trademark infringements.

The case is Accor Australia & New Zealand Hospitality Pty Ltd v Liv Pty Ltd [2017] FCAFC 56.

The case concerned a real estate agent advertising short term accommodation, using the name of a nearby Accor hotel (which was a registered trademark) to attract Internet users to the real estate agent's booking website.

The court confirmed findings of the trial judge that the following were trademark uses and trademark infringements:  use of of the trademark in the domain name, use in metatags for the website, use in headings for the website, use in email addresses, and use in Google advertisements.

New Zealand AdWords Case

Trade mark infringement found when competitor purchased Google AdWords that were trademarks of the other.

InterCity Group (NZ) Ltd v Nakedbus NZ Ltd [2013] NZHC 379 


See also comment.

Use of a competitor's mark in advertising could amount to an infringement of their trade mark unless it is clearly for descriptive or comparative purposes only e.g. if the advertisement includes sufficient text to differentiate the product or service that of the competitor. 

Trademarks and website headings

In a decision by the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia, it was decided that use of the generic term "Lift Shop" in the title of a webpage was not trademark infringement.

See:  Lift Shop v. Easy Living Home Elevators [2014] FCAFC 75

See also comment.

realestate.com.au Federal Court decision

On Friday, the Federal Court of Australia handed down its decision in the realestate.com.au v. realestate1.com.au case.

The decision is [2013] FCA 539.

The case concerned a generic term, that was used as a domain name, but where significant advertising had built up recognition of the brand.  The Applicant lost on consumer protection grounds but was successful in relation to trade mark infringement.  The case shows the risks of using a dictionary term as a brand, and the importance of a trade mark registration.

"245    However that observation about the ordinary case does not really address (as neither Perram J nor Chesterman J were called upon to address) a situation where the highly descriptive nature of the second-level domain (“realestate”) makes a suffix such as “.com.au” essential to brand or name recognition. Consumers with some familiarity with realestate.com.au as a brand are likely to look beyond “realestate” and to the entire domain name in order to establish identity. A real danger of confusion again arises because in the scanning process which may occur on a search results page, some consumers will miss the indistinctive “1”. I have therefore concluded that the use of “realestate1.com.au” as part of an internet address on a search results page, constituted the use by Real Estate 1 of a mark that was deceptively similar to REA’s realestate.com.au trade marks."

Telephone Numbers, Domain Names and Trade Marks

Have a look at this recent decision concerning a trade mark application for a telephone number:
1-800-Flowers.Com, Inc v Registrar of Trade Marks [2012] FCA 209
This case involves a dispute between 1300Flowers and 1800Flowers.
It reminds me of the domain name decisions concerning "Phonewords".  See for example:
the 1300fitness.com.au decision.

Domain Name - Use as a Trademark?

"Since 1995, Sports Warehouse had used the name “Tennis Warehouse” in Australia and did not change its domain name for its online store. Sports Warehouse, for the first time in closing submissions, (while conceding that reputation in the context of s 60 was that of the mark rather than reputation on some other basis), contended that as a significant number of Australian residents visited the Tennis Warehouse website at the domain names “www.tennis-warehouse.com” or “www.tenniswarehouse.com”, by inference they came to know Sports Warehouse by that word, which did not include a TW device. While acknowledging that, once at the website, the customer would encounter the TW device with the TENNIS WAREHOUSE trade mark, counsel for Sports Warehouse submitted that the court could infer, in such circumstances, a “capacity for confusion” at which s 60 was essentially directed.

While it has been held that a domain name can in some circumstances constitute use of a trade mark (see Sports Warehouse v Fry at [146]-[156]), there was no evidence before the court to establish that, as at December 2006, the TENNIS WAREHOUSE mark had acquired a reputation through use of the domain names amongst any consumers or any significant section of the public."

See Fry Consulting Pty Ltd v Sports Warehouse Inc (No 2) [2012] FCA 81 (13 February 2012)

Metatag Use is Not Use as a Trade Mark

"I do not accept that the use of any of CTI’s Registered Trade Marks in Green Energy’s metatags would constitute a trade mark infringement for the purposes of s 120(1). Metatags are invisible to the ordinary internet user, although their use will direct the user to (amongst other websites) Green Energy’s website. Once at the Green Energy website, then, in the ordinary course, the internet user will be made aware that the website is concerned with Green Energy’s services. It cannot, therefore, be said that the use in a metatag of CTI’s Registered Trade Marks is a use that indicates the origin of Green Energy’s services. Thus, metatag use is not use as a trade mark"

Complete Technology Integrations Pty Ltd v Green Energy Management Solutions Pty Ltd [2011] FCA 1319 (18 November 2011)

Inteflora case - bidding on trademarks as Google keywords

The Court of Justice of the European Union ("CJEU") has delivered its ruling in the long-running Interflora v Marks & Spencer Adwords case. The CJEU decided that trade mark owners can prohibit the purchase of their trade marks as keywords on web search engines, but cannot do so if the advertisements triggered do not allow users to ascertain the origin of the goods or services referred to in such advertisements.

Keywords in Europe

Extract from legal newsletter, IBLS:

The latest advocate general opinion on keywords advertising could, if followed by the European court, have a significant impact on Google’s advertising model. The advocate general’s opinion in Interflora v M&S advises that a trademark owner can take action against an advertiser who attempts to benefit from the attractive force of the proprietor’s mark. This is the first time that such a high court has opined on a dispute between a trademark owner and advertiser, rather than examining Google’s role – but it could deter advertisers from bidding on others’ trademarks.

The advocate general states that trademark use as a keyword can be forbidden under Article 5(2) of the European Trademarks Directive if “the advertiser attempts thereby to benefit from its power of attraction, its reputation or its prestige, and to exploit the marketing effort expended by the proprietor of that mark in order to create and maintain the image of that mark”.

Yesterday evening a crowd gathered at University College London for a seminar on the future of advertising function of the trademark. Although the speakers were in the dark about the advocate general’s opinion in Interflora, they nevertheless provided insight that takes on a new light today. For instance, this latest opinion continues the court’s flirtation with the advertising function, which could disappoint Annette Kur, one of last night’s speakers and co-author of the recent study into the European trademark system. “Including the advertising function into reasoning under Article 5(2) TMD is unnecessary and dangerous,” she said, advising brand owners to forget about trying to use the advertising function to gain protection beyond the established function of the trademark. “Stick to what you know,” she said.

Trademark owners will have to wait some time for the court’s judgment in Interflora.

See also FT

Keyword Decision in California

See Network Automation v. Advanced Systems Concepts

"Here we consider whether the use of another’s trademark as a search engine keyword to trigger one’s own product advertisement violates the Lanham Act. ...

Given the nature of the alleged infringement here, the most relevant factors to the analysis of the likelihood of con- fusion are: (1) the strength of the mark; (2) the evidence of actual confusion; (3) the type of goods and degree of care likely to be exercised by the purchaser; and (4) the labeling and appearance of the advertisements and the surrounding context on the screen displaying the results page.


The district court did not weigh the Sleekcraft factors flexibly to match the specific facts of this case. It relied on the Internet “troika,” which is highly illuminating in the context of domain names, but which fails to discern whether there is a likelihood of confusion in a keywords case. Because the linchpin of trademark infringement is consumer confusion, the district court abused its discretion in issuing the injunction. "



Keywords abuse - damages of $292,000

A law firm specialising in disability claims was awarded $292,000 by a California court, because of a competitor’s use of its mark as a Google AdWord.


Tiffany v. eBay

EBay Inc did not engage in trademark infringement and dilution by selling counterfeit Tiffany & Co goods on its website, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Thursday, but it ordered further review of the jeweler's claim of false advertising.

Tiffany and other luxury brands have long argued that counterfeit merchandise bearing their names is sold on eBay. The Web commerce company, which does not itself put the goods up for sale, says it has spent millions of dollars to track down counterfeiters and remove such listings.



Google and Trademarks

In a long-awaited opinion, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Google must face a trademark infringement lawsuit for selling keywords that trigger ads.

The three-judge panel reversed a lower court's dismissal of Rescuecom v. Google, 06-4881, in which computer-repair company Rescuecom had claimed that users could be confused by links to competitors' ads that appear alongside Google search results for the company's trademarked name.

See

Rescuecom Corp. v. Google Inc., 2009 WL 875447 (2d Cir. April 3, 2009)

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