Flintobox sues Amazon for using its brand’s name to drive traffic

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Flintobox sues Amazon for using its brand’s name to drive traffic Flintobox- a child development startup has filed a legal notice against the e-commerce giant Amazon. Flintobox is claiming that the online retailer had unlawfully used the brand name of the Chennai based company as a keyword to drive traffic to its own website.

In the notice sent to Amazon, the startup’s lawyer asserts Amazon's act of "deceitful diversion" was unlawful under trademark laws and is also prohibited under the AdWord policy of search major Google.

Flintobox said that it has approached Amazon with the complaint first in July and then Again in October. In return the startup only got a template response.

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Flintobox is suing the etailer for damages of Rs 10 lakh.

"We had to start a social media campaign against Amazon because the company was not responding. The decision to go legal is also one taken when few alternatives were in view," Vijay Babu Gandhi, cofounder of Flintobox, told ET.

A representative for Amazon India said, "Our automated systems pick ke ywords based on what users search and buy , Amazon follows all copy right and trademark policies." "We have paused all our ads mentionin the Flintobox brand and variation of the same in our ad copies on Google," the representative said in re sponse to email queries from ET.

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Google did not reply to ET's queries on the development.

Intellectual property law expert and search engine optimisation technicians point to the possibility of a software tool - Amazon in its reply mentions an automated system - that decides which "phrase" to bid on Google to drive traffic.

"I would assume that many people had searched for Flintobox on Amazon, and, may be, a real-time bidding tool for Google AdWords had picked it up as a keyword, not realising it was in fact a brand name,” Antony Kattukaran, an entrepreneur who had built a search engine optimiser, told ET.

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Trademark law experts say the law protects an entity against infringement just with the same vigour in the virtual world. However in this case, where software has generated a trademarked brand as keyword, the case gets more complex.