‘Adwords’ warning for businesses

Businesses advertising online through search giant Google are being warned to examine their strategy after a clear legal ruling involving retail giant Amazon and cosmetic company Lush.

The High Court has ruled that Amazon was infringing Lush’s trademarks when it paid to use Lush’s name in Google ‘Adword’ adverts.

Benjamin Dredge, solicitor and intellectual property (IP) expert at Lancashire law firm Napthens, reports that one of the key elements of the case involved the fact that the adverts displayed using the purchased Adwords, included the registered trade mark ‘Lush’.

This would mean that people searching for Lush cosmetics could be directed to Amazon – and products they might believe were made by Lush.

The High Court held that Amazon’s adverts displayed via Google’s Adwords service were infringing of Lush’s IP rights.

Benjamin Dredge said: “It is very common practice for retailers who sell a particular type of product, to advertise using purchased Goggle Adwords comprised of well known brand names within the relevant market.

“Where ‘Adwords’ are searched for by consumers, the resulting advertisement will usually feature the competing brand or product, so it is clear that the brand searched for and the brand being advertised are not directly associated.

“However, in this case, Amazon’s advertisement included the trademarked word ‘Lush.’ Given that Amazon specifically does not stock Lush products, the distinctive cosmetics brand took a strong stance on the use of their trade mark within the advertisements themselves.

“This is a clear warning from a High Court case involving well-known brands, one of which having clearly crossed a line – one that many other businesses may be in danger of crossing themselves if they haven’t reviewed their own online advertising strategies. It also highlights the importance and value of trade mark registration for a brand.

“Most modern businesses will look at Google advertising at some point, so this is an important ruling for many to be aware of.”