Amazon must go to trial in lawsuit over search results

July 07, 2015 08:04
When shoppers search for 'MTM Special Ops' on its website, Amazon, which doesn't sell that model,  displays competitors' watches that it does sell. Photo: Bloomberg Inc. must face a trademark lawsuit brought by a watchmaker, a US federal appeals court ruled.

The suit says the online retailer's search results can cause confusion for potential customers, Reuters reported.

The appeals court in San Francisco reversed a lower court ruling and said high-end watchmaker Multi Time Machine Inc. is entitled to a trial on its trademark allegations.

MTM Special Ops are a military style model of watches that are not sold on Amazon's website, the court ruling said Monday.

If a shopper searches for it on the website, however, Amazon will not say it does not carry MTM products.

Instead, Amazon displays MTM Special Ops in the search field and immediately below the search field, along with similar watches manufactured by MTM's competitors for sale.

MTM alleged this could cause customers to buy from one of those competitors, rather than encouraging the shopper to look for MTM watches elsewhere.

The firm sued, and a Los Angeles federal judge resolved the trademark claims in favor of Amazon before trial.

In its ruling Monday, the appeals court said MTM's lawsuit should be allowed to proceed.

"We think a jury could find that Amazon has created a likelihood of confusion," the court wrote.

MTM lawyer Eric Levinrad said Monday that, unlike Amazon, other online retailers will give customers a message that they don't sell a product if that is the case.

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