From day one Interflora have been insistent about the fact M&S should not be allowed to piggyback on their brand and reading into the above judgement it seems the EU courts agree with them too. The High Court in London needs to uphold the decision (which they ‘almost’ always do), once this happens it will spell the end of brand bidding in the UK and Europe at least.
Personally I’m not a fan of brand bidding, companies work hard to establish themselves as authorities and to develop a trustworthy brand, why should others use ‘cheap’ tactics to piggyback?? Would be good to know everyone’s thoughts on this? In my experience brand bidding is extremely unprofitable and the only people that are ever going to benefit are Google.
You can read more on the Interflora blog, here is a snippet:
Interflora 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.