Luxury brand names take Google fight to High Court

Will Hurst
Tuesday 19 April 2011 00:00
Comments

Some of the world's most prestigious brand names are to fight a legal battle in the High Court over Google search terms.

Luxury brands Cartier, Montblanc and Alfred Dunhill – all part of the Richemont group – are so keen to protect their online rights that they have filed a claim in the High Court, accusing retailer Aspinal of London of effectively "riding on their coat-tails".

They claim Aspinal is guilty of trademark infringement by buying up Google and Yahoo search terms – or "adwords" – which include their brand names but divert customers to the retailer's website.

Aspinal sells luxury leather goods, but does not stock Cartier, Montblanc or Dunhill products.

"The defendant's selection of adwords that are identical to the claimant's famous and distinctive marks takes unfair advantage of their reputation," the claim states, adding that the intention is to "benefit from their power of attraction, their reputation and their prestige".

In an area of law increasingly defined by the European courts, the latest case has echoes of Interflora's ongoing legal challenge against Marks & Spencer, for alleged "piggybacking" on Google searches, whereby M&S paid the search engine to promote its own flower business any time a user searched for Interflora's name.

It followed a similar failed action against Google by LVMH, the French owner of Louis Vuitton, which claimed Google was unfairly promoting third-party retailers in its sponsored search results.

The latest High Court claim calls for an injunction to "restrain" Aspinal from infringing the trademarks and seeks unspecified damages. Aspinal declined to comment.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in