M&S and Interflora stick to their guns after re-trial ruling


M&S and Interflora stick to their guns after re-trial ruling

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Retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) and flower company Interflora have both maintained their positions following the decision to re-hear their trademark dispute over Google AdWords.

On Wednesday (November 5), the English Court of Appeal rejected a ruling that M&S had infringed the ‘Interflora’ trademark by using advertising keywords of the same name to direct customers to its own flower delivery service.

In that ruling, from May last year, the High Court said the practice had confused consumers. But the appeals court, returning the case, said it doubted a significant proportion of consumers would mistakenly believe M&S’s service was part of Interflora’s network.

An M&S spokesman told TBO that the retailer is pleased with the latest decision.

“We have always maintained that the High Court’s judgment was wrong and that our use of the ‘Interflora’ trademark as a Google Adword was fair competition, providing our customers with a convenient way to shop for our flowers online. 

“We are now reviewing the legal options available to us and it would be inappropriate for us to comment any further at this stage,” the spokesman said.

However, Michael Barringer, Interflora’s marketing director, explained to TBO that the company continues to believe the evidence before the court supports a finding of infringement “and we are going forward on that basis to the re-trial”.

“The Court of Appeal’s decision to ask the High Court to look at all the evidence again backs the hard work and effort that everyone at Interflora has put into defending the Interflora brand,” he said.

“People searching the internet for ‘Interflora’ want ‘Interflora, the flower experts, and no one else. We are very proud of the Interflora brand and want to protect it for our customers, our florists and our future. Accordingly, we believe it is right to continue to protect the brand through this court action,” he added.

M&S; Marks & Spencer; Interflora; Google AdWords; trademark infringement

Trademarks and Brands Online