Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

Keyword use questioned in online trademark dispute case

The Internet has changed modern life in myriad ways from the way people communicate to individual shopping habits. The ubiquitous nature of the Internet has also made a profound impact on advertising and marketing, sparking many questions and disputes about trademark infringement and intellectual property rights. A case involving the company Edible Arrangements, which has dozens of locations in New Jersey, against an industry rival has brought key issues to light.

The complaint filed by Edible Arrangements International, LLC, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut claims that Provide, a company that offers similar services, infringed on their trademark and also engaged in typosquatting in order to attract Edible Arrangements customers and direct website traffic away from the popular company. Typosquatting is a form of cybersquatting in which domain names are purposefully misspelled in order to divert Internet traffic from its intended landing point. Under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, typosquatting is misleading and may infringe on a rival company's trademark.

Edible Arrangements also claimed that Provide placed bids on particular search terms that closely resembled products offered by Edible Arrangements. In her ruling, the presiding judge took issue with Provide's use of the keyword "edible" in its online advertisements, asserting that, as fruit is expected to be edible, the term is redundant and may confuse those customers looking to make a purchase with Edible Arrangements.

In a competitive Internet marketplace, it may be challenging for a business to stand out from the competition. However, infringing on another company's trademark could lead to costly lawsuits and a negative industry reputation. Those who have questions about trademark protection and enforcement, whether in regards to an online or brick-and-mortar business, may wish to consult with an attorney who has experience in trademark law matters.

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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