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Marks & Spencer (M&S) has lost its five-year trademark battle with Interflora, after the High Court ruled the retailer had infringed Interflora’s trademark.

The case dates back to 2008, after M&S bought the florist’s trademarked keywords and phrases in Google AdWords. Consumers searching for ‘Interflora’ on Google would trigger the display of an ad for M&S’ flower delivery service, with no reference to Interflora in the link. Interflora’s argued that this infringed its search results.

In 2009 the case was referred to the European Court of Justice to determine if  the use of a trademarked term as a keyword amounted to an infringement.

The case was then passed back to the UK court where a decision was made yesterday (21 May) where the judge ruled that M&S’ use of the Interflora trademark as a Google Adword to advertise its M&S Flowers and Gifts website amounted to trademark infringement.

Lee Curtis, partner at the trademark law firm HGF said of the case: ‘The broader ramifications are that it is likely that many advertisers who use Google’s AdWord system and other keyword advertising services will now proceed with more caution when bidding on competitors trademarks.’

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