Google Ad-Words – Are the gloves coming off?

In the long-running Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Interflora dispute, the Court of Appeal (CoA) has recently overturned a previous High Court ruling that M&S infringed Interflora’s trademark rights by purchasing and using Interflora’s name as a Google Ad-Word.

In a nutshell, Google Ad-Words allows advertisers to bid for specific words and phrases in order to appear above the organic listings on Google’s search results.

The High Court’s previous ruling in respect of Interflora’s Injunction to prevent M&S from continuing with its Ad-Words campaign was that it had an “adverse effect on the origin function of the Trade Marks” and found in Interflora’s favour.
The CoA upheld M&S’ appeal of the High Court decision believing M&S’ conduct to be a fair form of competition and has returned the case to the High Court to be re-tried.

With Google’s dominance in the market and the popularity of its Ad-Words service to advertisers looking to get ahead of the competition, a future finding in favour of M&S could have serious consequences on the landscape of competitive advertising!

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