Flintobox alleges that Amazon violated trademark laws and Google’s AdWord policy.

This Chennai startup is taking on Amazon for brand name violationPhotos via Facebook
news Business Friday, December 23, 2016 - 15:56

Child development startup Flintobox has served a legal notice to online marketplace giant Amazon for using its brand name to drive traffic to its website.

Arun Prasad, co-founder and CEO of the three-year-old startup told TNM that they had served Amazon a “cease-and-desist” notice on Tuesday for violating trademark laws as well as Google’s AdWord policy by “deceitful diversion”.

The alleged manipulation was first brought to Flintobox’s notice in June. “The customer told us that when they tried to search for Flintobox using search engines, and clicked on Amazon’s result, they were taken to pages which had the competitor’s products,” Arun says.

Following this, they contacted Amazon saying that the latter was using “Flintobox” as a search keyword and in its ad copies, and should stop.

“We diligently followed up and went by the book but Amazon didn’t respond properly,” Arun notes. In August finally, Flintobox approached Google, following which Amazon was “forced” to stop using “Flintobox” as a keyword.

However, their troubles weren’t over. Arun points out that soon, Amazon began using the word “Flinto”, which he adds, is also trademarked. In September, Flintobox again went to Google to address the issue.

After Flintobox served the legal notice to Amazon, the latter told Economic Times in a statement that their automated systems pick up keywords on the basis of what customers search and buy. “We have paused all our ads mentioning the Flintobox brand and variation of the same in our ad copies on Google,” added the Amazon representative.

However, Arun observes the usage of the word “paused” instead of “cease and desist” in Amazon’s statement. “This means they are free to resume using it as and when they want,” he argues. 

Arun says that they lost 10-15% of their business because of traffic being driven to Amazon. Flintobox is suing Amazon for damages worth Rs 10 lakh.

Even now, Arun says, when you search for Flintobox on Amazon, it displays an array of products, while it should actually be displaying zero products.

However, he is assured that the law is in their favour. “Even if we have to go to the courts, we know we are on the right side of the law. I’m sure we’ll get justice,” Arun says.

 

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