High Court of England and Wales Rules in Favor of United Online Subsidiaries Interflora, Inc. and Interflora British Unit
High Court Rules that Marks and Spencer's Use of the "Interflora" Trademark as a Google AdWord to Advertise Its M&S Flowers & Gifts Website Was Trademark Infringement
WOODLAND HILLS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- United Online, Inc. (Nasdaq: UNTD ) , a leading provider of consumer products and services over the Internet, announced that the High Court of England and Wales issued its judgment in favor of United Online’s FTD subsidiaries, Interflora, Inc. and Interflora British Unit, in their long-running lawsuit against Marks and Spencer plc. In December 2008, Interflora, Inc. and Interflora British Unit initiated proceedings against Marks and Spencer in an attempt to stop Marks and Spencer from bidding on the “Interflora” trademark on Google. In today’s ruling, the trial judge concluded that Marks and Spencer’s use of the “Interflora” trademark as a Google AdWord to advertise the Marks and Spencer’s Flowers & Gifts website constituted trademark infringement.
In the ruling, Mr. Justice Arnold, the trial judge, stated:
“[T]he M&S advertisements which are the subject of Interflora’s claim did not enable reasonably well-informed and reasonably attentive internet users to ascertain whether the service referred to in the advertisements originated from [M&S or Interflora] ... On the contrary, as at 6 May 2008, a significant proportion of the consumers who searched for 'interflora' and the other Signs, and then clicked on M&S’s advertisements displayed in response to those searches, were led to believe, incorrectly, that M&S’s flower delivery service was part of the Interflora network.”
“We are very pleased with the judgment which marks the conclusion of the trial of a legal case that began in 2008 and involved hearings before the Court of Justice of European Union and the UK Court of Appeal before finally returning to the High Court for trial,” said Mark R. Goldston, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of United Online. “This judgment supports all the hard work and effort our Interflora, Inc. and Interflora British Unit subsidiaries have put into defending the Interflora brand.”
Robert S. Apatoff, President of FTD Companies, Inc., added, “This judgment means that Marks and Spencer cannot bid on the trademark term 'Interflora' in the Google AdWords program. Keyword advertising is a very powerful tool and from a consumer protection perspective, it is important that Internet search results take consumers directly to the brands they are seeking. We wanted to ensure that when consumers search on the Internet for 'Interflora,' they can be confident in knowing that the flowers they purchase are coming from a member of the Interflora floral network.”
The case will return to court later in the year to determine how much Marks and Spencer must pay Interflora, Inc. and Interflora British Unit by way of damages and costs. Each party may seek permission to appeal.
About United Online ®
United Online, Inc. (Nasdaq: UNTD), through its operating subsidiaries, is a leading provider of consumer products and services over the Internet, where their respective brands have attracted a large online audience that includes more than 100 million registered accounts worldwide. The company's FTD segment provides floral-related products and services (FTD, Interflora, Flying Flowers, and Flowers Direct) for consumers and retail florists, as well as other retail locations offering floral and related products and services. The company's Content & Media segment provides online nostalgia products and services (Classmates, schoolFeed and StayFriends) and online loyalty marketing (MyPoints). Its primary Communications segment service is Internet access (NetZero and Juno), including 4G mobile broadband (NetZero Wireless).
United Online, FTD and Interflora are trademarks or registered trademarks of United Online, Inc. or its subsidiaries. All other company or product names are trademarks of their respective owners.
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