Amazon being sued by Flintobox for wrongful keyword usage?

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Amazon hasn’t received much love from quite a few sellers either in terms of seller support and brand authorization. They feel the marketplace does whatever it pleases without looking at the interest of its sellers.

This time it’s words that have gotten Amazon into severe trouble. The online marketplace on Tuesday morning was sent a ‘cease and desist’ notice on account of deceitful diversion. Flintobox, a child development startup filed a legal suit against the ecommerce company stating that it has unlawfully used their brand name of their company as a keyword to direct traffic to their online website.

The firm’s lawyer claims this move is an act of deceitful diversion under the trademark laws and is even prohibited under the AdWord policy of the Google search engine.

Amazon has been doing this for a really long time

According to the Chennai-based company, Flintobox claims it had reached out to the etailer in July regarding this issue then in October as well. In response, the online marketplace kept sending ‘template answers’ across.

“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,” said the co-founder of Fintobox, Vijay Babu Gandhi.

As a result, Flintobox is suing the online retail platform for damages worth Rs.10 lakhs.

An Amazon representative stated, “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 variation of the same in our ad copies on Google.”

Verdict from experts

Search engine optimisation technicians and intellectual property law experts say that the Amazon uses is an automated system that decides which phrase to bid for on Google to boost traffic.

“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,” said Antony Kattukaran an entrepreneur who has built a search engine optimiser.

The President of National Intellectual Property Organisation, TC James mentioned, 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.”

Trademark law experts say the law protects everyone against infringements equally. Even virtual entities. However, in the above case, the use of software to generate keywords makes the whole situation a lot more complex.

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