High street retailer Marks and Spencer (M&S) is to pay damages to flower retailer Interflora after losing a five-year court battle over use of the latter‘s trademark, it has been announced.
Interflora originally initiated proceedings against the retailer in 2008 after M&S bid for its trademark for use as a Google AdWord in an attempt to boost traffic to its Flowers & Gifts site and a judge has now ruled that such use constitutes trademark infringement.
Mr Justice Arnold said in a ruling: “The 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.”
As yet, the amount payable by M&S, which reported a 3.2 per cent drop in pre-tax profit in its full year yesterday](/articles/23341-ms-profits-slide-despite-sales-rise), is yet to be determined while there is still time to appeal the court‘s findings.
Mark R. Goldston, Chairman, President and CEO of United Online, parent company of Interflora, welcomed the ruling and praised the work of subsidiaries for seeing the case through.
“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,” he said.
“This judgment supports all the hard work and effort our Interflora, Inc. and Interflora British Unit subsidiaries have put into defending the Interflora brand.”