US court: Amazon's alternative search results do not infringe
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US court: Amazon's alternative search results do not infringe

Online businesses can suggest alternative products without committing trade mark infringement when customers search for a specific brand, a US court has ruled

In Multi Time Machine v Amazon, online retailer Amazon was sued by watch manufacturer Multi Time Machine (MTM), which sells military style watches under the brand names MTM Special Ops and MTM Military Ops.

When customers searched for MTM Special Ops on Amazon, they got no results because MTM does not allow resales of its products on Amazon. Amazon therefore offered a selection of alternative watches from competitors instead – some of them including the word “ops”.

The District Court for the Central District of California ruled last week that there was no likelihood of confusion because although a substitution occurred, Amazon made it clear that the alternatives were not made by MTM.

The case, which may have ramifications for many online businesses, bears similarities to disputes around the world over Google AdWords, although limited to Amazon’s internal search engine.

MTM has said that it plans to appeal against the decision.

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