Amazon, the online marketplace giant, recently lost an important court case. The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the company will be subject to an ongoing trademark lawsuit, which was instigated by Amazon’s publishing of competitors’ list prices. A lower court originally ruled in Amazon’s favor in the case.
Multi Time Machine v. Amazon.com involves Multi Time Machine (MTM), a watchmaking company that filed suit against Amazon for “confusing search results.” Consumers who search for “MTM Special Ops” on Amazon do not actually see the MTM product they are searching for because Amazon does not sell the product. Instead, the search engine provides a list of competitors’ watches that are sold by Amazon. Consumers may be aware the product they are trying to purchase does not come from MTM, but could also think they are purchasing an MTM product since the search results page displays “MTM Special Ops” at the top of the page.
Ruling Not an Automatic Victory
The ruling does not automatically grant MTM a trademark victory. The case will return to court wherein MTM must prove that Amazon intentionally caused this confusion. A judge from the majority ruling said that a jury should have the opportunity to make the final decision. “A jury could infer that users who are confused by the search results will wonder whether a competitor has acquired MTM or is otherwise affiliated with or approved by MTM,” he said.
A dissenting judge disagreed saying that online consumers are knowledgeable enough to understand the difference. He equated the search engine results to a waitress offering a diner Pepsi because it does not serve Coca Cola.
Philadelphia Trademark Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green Represent Trademark Infringement Claims
As technology continues to evolve, laws must also be changed to keep up with technology’s fast pace. Across the nation, trademark law is in flux. If you think that an individual or company has violated your trademark or marketed your product in violation of fair trade laws, contact a Philadelphia trademark lawyer at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green today. Please call 215-574-0600 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.