On Tuesday, 21 May 2013, the High Court of England and Wales handed downits judgment in the long running case of Interflora, Inc. and InterfloraBritish Unit versus Marks and Spencer plc. Mr Justice Arnold ruled infavour of Interflora, Inc. and Interflora British Unit, finding thatMarks and Spencer's use of the "Interflora" trade mark as a GoogleAdWord to advertise its M&S Flowers & Gifts website was trade markinfringement.
Mr Justice Arnold said:
"the M&S advertisements which are the subject of Interflora's claim didnot enable reasonably well-informed and reasonably attentive internetusers to ascertain whether the service referred to in the advertisementsoriginated from [M&S or Interflora] ... On the contrary, as at 6 May2008, a significant proportion of the consumers who searched for"interflora" and the other Signs, and then clicked on M&S'sadvertisements displayed in response to those searches, were led tobelieve, incorrectly, that M&S's flower delivery service was part of theInterflora network."
This judgment marks the conclusion of the trial of a legal case thatbegan in 2008 and involved hearings before the Court of Justice ofEuropean Union and the UK Court of Appeal before finally returning tothe High Court for trial.
Rhys Hughes, president of Interflora British Unit, said:
"This ruling helps ensure that when consumers search on the internet for"Interflora", they can be confident in knowing that the flowers boughtonline come from a member of the Interflora network. Keywordadvertising is a very powerful tool and so it is vital for consumerprotection that internet search results take consumers directly to thebrands they are looking for. The Interflora brand stands for qualityand service, a reputation we have been building, with our network ofindependent florists, since 1923."
Iain Connor, a Partner who led the Pinsent Masons team advising on thecase, said:
"It seems prescient that in the week of the Chelsea Flower show, thecourt has decided in favour of Interflora, ruling that M&S infringed the'Interflora' trade mark by using it to promote M&S flowers on theinternet using the Google AdWords programme. I am delighted forInterflora which has worked very hard for this decision in the fiveyears since this action began."
The judgment means that Marks and Spencer cannot bid on the trade markedterm "Interflora" in the Google AdWords programme. The case will returnto court later in the year to determine how much Marks and Spencer mustpay Interflora, Inc. and Interflora British Unit by way of damages andcosts. Each party may seek permission to appeal.