Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Keyword ad buys are fine for less expensive products too, court confirms

Lasoff v. Amazon.com, Inc., 2018 WL 3720029, --- Fed.Appx. ----, 2018 WL 3720029, No. 17-35173 (9th Cir. Aug. 6, 2018)

Lasoff sued Amazon and appealed the grant of summary judgment on his trademark infringement and false advertising claims.  He argued that Amazon infringed Lasoff’s trademark Ingrass by buying it for keyword ads.  “Amazon is permitted to use a trademarked search term to direct consumers to competing products, as long as the search results are clearly labeled.” There was no evidence of lack of clear labeling.  Lasoff argued that MTM was distinguishable because consumers are more discerning as to watches than as to artificial turf, the product here. The court disagreed, making clear that noises about sophistication with respect to the underlying product have always been makeweight; the real issue is sophistication about search.  “The question is whether consumers are confused by the search results, and those results display the trademarked product names. The display of names in a set of search results is not made more or less confusing simply because the underlying products might be watches or turf.”

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