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Consim Info Sues Google, Jeevansathi, Shaadi, SimplyMarry; Implications For Competitive Ads


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Update: we spoke to Consim Info CEO Murugavel Janakiraman about what they seek to achieve from this case.

Earlier: In what is clearly going to be a precedence setting case for competitive advertising on the web, as far as Indian jurisdiction is concerned, Consim Info (Bharatmatrimony) has taken Google, Jeevansathi, Shaadi and SimplyMarry to court for trademark infringement, report MoneyControl and Business Standard. The bone of contention appears to be the sponsored competitive advertisements that appear on Google search results, as well as during keyword suggestion for Google AdWords. It’s quite another thing that Consim Info is doing the same thing – advertising on search results for search results for Shaadi.com, Jeevansathi.com and SimplyMarry.com. Screenshots:

bharatmatrimony-google-simplymarry

bharatmatrimony-google-jeevansathi bharatmatrimony-google-shaadi

When contacted by MediaNama, Google India declined to comment, saying that the matter is sub-judice. Info Edge said that they’re yet to receive a copy of the order. We’ll update with responses from Consim Info and People Interactive (Shaadi).

The Purpose Of The Case? Implications For Adwords

The money demanded by Consim Info for infringement (Rs. 10.5 lakh) is minimal, when it comes to court cases, but this clearly isn’t about the money. Organic search and sponsored search results are a source of profile registrations for matrimonial services. This injuction appears to have been given ex-party, which means none of the defendents were present, and arguments from both sides will be heard as the case progresses.

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communitymatrimonyIf it is passed in its current form, Consim Info, which has trademarked a number of matrimonial names like Tamil Matrimony, which it has portals for. I think it’s important to note that Consim Info has recently launched some 250 sites as a part of the domain communitymatrimony.com – domains like AgarwalMatrimony.com, BrahminMatrimony.com, KayasthaMatrimony.com. We’re not sure if these are registered as trademarks as well, but if so, then the company could kill competitive activity on the web if its plea is upheld in court. That would be a pretty smart move.

Google’s Adwords policy regarding trademarks is as follows:

From Google Adwords’ Trademark Policy: “Depending on the regions in which you have trademark rights, we may investigate the use of trademarks in ad text only or in ad text and keywords. Please note the regions we will investigate ad text only. We will not disable keywords in response to a trademark complaint.”

And from the update to this policy : “Google has made a policy revision that applies to complaints we receive regarding trademark use in keywords. Beginning 4 June 2009, keywords that were restricted as a result of a trademark investigation will no longer be restricted in the following regions: (including India)”

Thus, Google might have to restrict keywords under trademark investigation.

Our Take

It’s strange that Consim Info itself continues to advertise on competitive keywords (our screencaps were taken this morning, while the injunction was passed last week). Note that our search queries were not generics like Shaadi, but specific brands like Shaadi.com, Jeevansathi.com and SimplyMarry.com. However, such an argument would strengthen Frankly, what Consim Info does on its properties is its ownership, but when it comes to an advertising platform like Google Adwords, we think competitive activity on keywords should not be restricted, unless there is an explicit exclusivity clause signed with Google.

Your Take?
Where do you stand on this issue? Please feel free to leave your reasoned take on this issue. Do note that any potentially slanderous comments against any individual or a company will be removed. We’d prefer a healthy discussion on the issue.

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  • If Consim wants to restrict usage of their keywords by competitors, they have to tell Google to restrict it, and they will. If this process has been followed, then Consim has a case. Otherwise, there shouldn't be a problem. Google should not be the watchdog for someone else's trademark properties, and they specify that very clearly in their TM policy.

    As for competitive keyword bidding, it's not disallowed in India, but as an owner of the trademark, one has the right to dictate the terms of its use. I don't see the problem here. If Consim can bid on other competitors' trademarked terms as keywords, then they expose themselves to similar problems, provided those competitors have taken the necessary steps to have Google restrict the use of their trademarks.

  • Guest

    My comment on another post here:
    This is ridiculous! Yahoo search does the same thing but consim wont dare sue them, thanx to the funding they received by Yahoo in the recent years! check up what I found on yahoo search http://search.yahoo.com/search?rd=r1&p=shaadi… (the first ad on the right hand side column) Its a bharatmatrimony ad using 'shaadi as a keyword! going by their case, they should sue themselves for this, isnt it? does consim take us for being an oblivious audience?!

  • Kabilan

    From the commercial adverisement perspective, the use of ones registered trademark for some other's welfare is not legal. In my view, Indian trademarks Act is very clear in this regard. If any competitor want to derive millege by using another reputed trademark, it should be curtiled at the earliest. I would say such use amounts to unfair trade practice and unethical as well.

  • First page on google for keywords of your choice in the regular unpaid search result byTextilesinfomediary. She is beautiful and georgeous. female for male in any matrimonial site. It is an individual who shall decide whose services he or she should have. Bharatmatrimonial services can come and resolves the issues with us.

  • It is a matter of debate and solicitation. Internet is an online resource and search results appearing on keep on varies there are few wizard who penetrate hard to secure page ranking for there clients. In fact textilesinfomediary can resolve the issue out of court.

  • Nehru

    This is totally ridiculous , if any one has a trademark for wedding, or for marriage does that means that no one should use these words, and Consim just because they are supported by yahoo its a corrupted politician move of pleasing the ruling by opposing the other.

  • Siddheswar

    They are copying the profiles along with passwords across their affiliate sites. This is a privacy breach.
    They dint ask for permission too.

    We registered my relative's profile on bengalimatrimony.com. Interestingly the profile got copied to kayasthamatrimony.
    We paid on bengalimatrimony and now they are asking to pay for kayashtamatrimony.
    But all the profiles exists on both places.

    I think they are cheating every1 by creating many sites.
    Wait to see more sites like darkgirlsandboysmatrimony.com, tallgirlsandboysmatrimony.com, etc.

    This is pure cheating