Interflora delighted with European Court ruling

by Ann Bampton on September 22, 2011

Interflora logoInterflora is delighted by the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union which today ruled in their favour. This ruling will enable brand holders across Europe to deliver quality service and ensure that trade marks guarantee the origin of the goods bought by consumers online. Keyword advertising is a very powerful tool and so it is vital for consumer protection that internet search results take consumers immediately to the brands they were
looking for.

This judgment goes much further than previous rulings by saying that the use by a competitor of a keyword identical to the trade mark in relation to identical goods or services has an adverse effect on the investment in the trade mark where that use substantially interferes with the brand’s reputation and its ability to attract and retain consumers. Further, a competitor may be construed as free-riding on a brand when that competitor uses the brand owner’s trade mark as a paid for keyword to deliver sponsored advertising along side natural search results. This is exactly what Interflora and other global brands have been arguing for many years.

However, Interflora acknowledges that the judgment of the Court of Justice needs to be applied by the High Court in the UK to determine the question of Marks & Spencer’s liability. This is expected in the course of 2012.

Michael Barringer, Interflora’s marketing director said that “this judgment backs all the hard work and effort we have put in to defending the Interflora brand. People searching the internet for “Interflora” want “Interflora, the flower experts” and no one else. Our brand stands for quality and service and together with our network of independent florists, we have spent the last 80 years building this reputation. Our customers trust us to deliver flowers at the most important times of their lives. We are very proud of the Interflora brand and want to protect it for our customers, florists and the future.”

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Ann Bampton

Post category: Industry News, Interflora in the Press, Interflora News, News  

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Marcus 22 Sep 2011 at 10:07 am

Wow, this could put a few peoples noses out, but, in a way, it’s kind of fair. I guess this is the first of many steps towards regulation of online advertising we will see in the coming years.

Mark, Digital Media Monkey 22 Sep 2011 at 10:48 am

I’ve struggled with which side of the fence I’m on in all this – part of me wonders is it not anti-competitive?

Patrick Altoft 22 Sep 2011 at 10:51 am

This is an interesting development for all those brands who don’t like having to pay to defend their own brand. Google is the only winner in brand bidding and nobody will suffer if they stop it.

Robert 22 Sep 2011 at 11:39 am

Speaking as a small retailer who has recently trademarked “The Furniture Market”
We are really glad to Interflora championing this issue with Keyword bidding.

People who search for “The furniture Market” have often done their research and want to buy from us, nobody else.

ON Behalf of The Furniture Market I would like to say a big Thank you to interflora for championing this issue.

Azzam 22 Sep 2011 at 11:57 am

I believe an important step in the right direction for brands to maintain identity and ownership. We welcome the pursuit within the High Courts in the UK

Marcus 22 Sep 2011 at 12:29 pm

Yeah, if you are looking for a specific brand, and a competitor runs a search ad, they may win a click but you are unlikely to convert if you are already looking for a specific vendor. That’s my feeling at least for 90% of these searches. I have a few clients that are bidding against big established players in this way and they are not good converting clicks so… At the end of the day you can’t do this in print or on TV so it was just a matter of time.

Oliver Carding 22 Sep 2011 at 3:07 pm

Surely this will just open the floodgates on popular keyphrases being trademarked

Darren Moloney 22 Sep 2011 at 5:58 pm

From my own experience I would say that if someone is searching for “Interflora” then I pretty much doubt an ad from M&S would get most people’s attention – probably the wrong part of the funnel at that point to grab a sale.

We’ve ran PPC campaigns for clients bidding on their competitors names (at their request) – we never saw much in the way of brand “disloyalty” (very few visits resulted in paid traffic to the client site)…. I always felt my clients wanted it to just “needle the other guy”

I say if a competitor bids on your name I’d say take it as flattery, unless of course the ad content or their website is in some way trying to passing off as your business…

Robert Oak 23 Sep 2011 at 9:24 am

I don’t think this ruling is anti competitive in the slightest. It is up to a brand to promote itself effectively.

If M&S flowers promoted their service better then people would search for “M&S Flowers”

I am firmly on interflora’s side here. Ad-words is the only arena that flouts international trademark laws.

Shaun 23 Sep 2011 at 10:26 am

I am not convinced that this creates a big opportunity for those with deep pockets to start trademarking high value keywords.

there are for example some very large financial institutions that have their main brand site supported by as many as a hundred microsites based on keywords, they could easily brand them all and it has nothing to do with the main brand at all. This would effectively close the bidding in adwords for those terms.

Keith Sholl 23 Sep 2011 at 12:53 pm

It is clear from reading the ECJ judgement that, notwithstanding the exclusive rights of the proprietor to the use of a trade mark, a proprietor cannot prevent a competitor from bidding on a keyword that is the same or very similar to their trade mark unless the use of the keyword by the competitor is liable to have an adverse affect on the functions of the mark.

Whilst it is now for the High Court to determine the eventual ruling in this case it seems that the ECJ, in their response to the questions raised by the High Court, have provided a very strong steer towards finding in favour of M&S rather than Interflora.

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