Interflora wins 5-year search keyword battle with M&S

22/05/2013

Interflora has won a high court battle over Marks and Spencer in the UK, ruling that the supermarket chain could not use the florists' trademark as a Google AdWord to boost its visibility on the search engine.

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A High Court judge found in favour of Interflora, which claimed that M&S’s use of its trademark as a Google AdWord to advertise its 'Flowers and Gifts' website was trademark infringement.

The judgment means that Marks and Spencer cannot bid on the trade marked term "Interflora" in the Google AdWords programme.

The case will return to court later in the year to determine how much Marks and Spencer must pay Interflora by way of damages and costs. Each party may seek permission to appeal.

Mr Justice Arnold said: "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 judgment marks the conclusion of the trial of a legal case that began in 2008 and involved hearings before the Court of Justice of European Union and the UK Court of Appeal before finally returning to the High Court for trial.

Rhys Hughes, president of Interflora British Unit, said: "this ruling helps ensure that when consumers search on the internet for "Interflora", they can be confident in knowing that the flowers bought online come from a member of the Interflora network. Keyword advertising is a very powerful tool and so it is vital for consumer protection that internet search results take consumers directly to the brands they are looking for. The Interflora brand stands for quality and service, a reputation we have been building, with our network of independent florists, since 1923.”

A Marks & Spencer spokesperson said: “We are disappointed by today’s judgement. As we are considering our position and all the options available to us it would be inappropriate for us to comment any further at this stage.”

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