Update 2 (Oct 13): R. Sundar, CEO of Times Business Solutions Limited, which owns the SimplyMarry.com brand has said that “For all practical purposes the bridge has been crossed and all that remains is the long and winding road to the Final Judgment – The Hon’ble High Court of Madras’ order of 7th October 2009, supports SimplyMarry.com’s reputation of conducting ethical & healthy competition in the online industry.”
Update 1 (Oct 12): As per the order, the interim injunction granted to Consim Info has been vacated, and Google India has been directed to adhere to its present business policy. Also, the court has directed that Consim Info’s trademarks (Bharatmatrimony.com, TamilMatrimony.com, TeluguMatrimony.com ect) be not used in AdWords.
Original Story (Oct 8): The Madras High Court passed an order yesterday regarding the online advertising related case filed by Consim Info (Bharatmatrimony Group) against Google and matrimonial portals Consim Info competes with – Shaadi.com (People Group), Jeevansathi.com (Info Edge) and SimplyMarry.com (TBSL). The order, though pronounced in court, hasn’t been published yet, and we await a copy for more clarity. In the meantime, two of the opposing parties – People Interactive (Shaadi) and Consim Info – claim that the order favors them. We’re awaiting a response from Google and SimplyMarry. Info Edge MD Sanjeev Bikhchandani has declined to comment, saying they haven’t received a copy of the order yet. The next hearing in the case will be on November 4th.
Last month, the Madras High Court had granted Consim Info an ex-party interim injunction that prevented the usage of Consim Info registered trademarks in AdWords advertising, and stopped the defendents from bidding on/allowing bidding on Consim Info trademarks. More on that here and here.
Speaking to MediaNama, Anupam Mittal, Chairman of the People Group claimed that the stay granted to Consim Info “has been vacated. It’s reverted to Google’s global policy for now, though the matter is still sub-judice. There is a case, the case will go on. But we can advertise, and it’s business as usual. We, as a policy, don’t use trademarked words in display words. This is all unnecessary, and there are better way of doing things (i.e. resolving issues). We should be working together to grow this industry instead of using tactics that really go nowhere.”
Consim Info CEO Murugavel Janakiraman however suggests that the order favors them. According to him, the interim injunction has been modified, and as per the order, “Google will not allow its platform to be used to violate trademarks of Bharatmatrimony Group in the AdWords program. Google can continue to use trademarked keywords for bidding. The next hearing will take place on November 4th. We don’t think Google should not allow people to bid on our trademarked keywords. Google’s global policy doesn’t allow advertising using both trademarked AdWords and key words.”
We’ll update when we have a copy of the order, but our take on this is that advertisements that use competitive trademarks as display words, that mislead consumers, should not be allowed. At the same time, we don’t see any harm in allowing bidding on keywords that are competitors trademarks.