High Court awards Interflora damages in Google AdWords trademark row

by Peter Young on May 21, 2013 · 0 comments

In a case that seems to have gone on forever – it seems that the high court have taken the dramatic step of awarding Interflora damages in the long running case against Marks and Spencers – something that may have wider repurcussions for Google and the wider paid landscape as a whole.

Justice Arnold ruled in favour of Interflora, saying that Marks and Spencer’s use of the ‘Interflora’ trade mark as a keyword in their paid search campaigns –  to advertise its M&S Flowers & Gifts website  - was an infringement of trademark.

He went on to say “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.”

This effectively means that Marks and Spencer cannot bid on the trademarked term ‘Interflora’ in the Google AdWords programme.

Potentially this could be a big issue for advertisers as it does set a very significant precedent. Where Google and keyword strategies go from here is still open to debate and given history in this case I can’t help thinking there may be more to come from this.

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