No, You Can’t Box that Name, says Flintobox Legal Notice to Amazon
Accuses co of using brand as a keyword to drive traffic
Economic Times22 Dec 2016Bharani.Vaitheesvaran @timesgroup.com
Chennai: Child development startup Flintobox has filed a legal notice against Amazon claiming that the online retailer had unlawfully used the brand name of the Chennai company as a keyword to drive traffic to its own website.
In the ‘cease-and-desist’ notice sent by the startup on Tuesday morning, the company’s lawyer asserts Amazon’s act of “deceitful diversion” was unlawful under trademark laws and is also prohibited under the AdWord policy of search major Google.
Flintobox, which is suing the etailer for damages of .₹ 10 lakh, said it had approached Amazon with the complaint first in July and then again in October, but received only “template responses.”
Vijay Babu Gandhi, cofounder of Flintobox, said, “We had to start a social media campaign against Amazon because the company was not responding. The decision to go legal is also one taken when few alternatives were in view,” he said.
A representative for Amazon India said, “Our automated systems pick keywords based on what users search and buy, Amazon follows all copyright and trademark policies.” “We have paused all our ads mentioning the Flintobox brand and variations of the same in our ad copies on Google,” the representative said in response to email queries from ET.
Google did not reply to ET’s queries on the development.
Intellectual property law experts and search engine optimisation technicians point to the possibility of a software tool – Amazon in its reply mentions an automated system – that decides which “phrase” to bid on Google to drive traffic. Antony Kattukaran, an entrepreneur who had built a search engine optimiser, said, “I would assume that many people had searched for Flintobox on Amazon, and, may be, a real-time bidding tool for Google AdWords had picked it up as a keyword, not realising it was in fact a brand name.”
Trademark law experts say the law protects an entity against infringement just with the same vigour in the virtual world. However in this case, where software has generated a trademarked brand as keyword, the case gets more complex.
TC James, president of National Intellectual Property Organisation said, “While I would not comment on this particular matter, generally, in the case of an unintentional infringement, as in the case of a software-driven bidding process, then there could be many extraneous factors that may come in determining the judgement.”
Flintobox is suing the etailer for damages of 10 lakh