A box from Amazon.com is pictured on the porch of a house in Golden, Colorado July 23, 2008.
“Military” watchmaker MTM has been pursuing Amazon since 2011 and, despite losing in a California federal court, it’s just won a 2-1 vote in the 9th USA Circuit Court of Appeals to have the case go to trial.
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Barry Silverman concluded that, “because Amazon’s search result clearly labeled the name and manufacturer of each product offered for sale and even included photographs of the items, no reasonably prudent shopper accustomed to shopping online would likely be confused as to the source of the products”.
According to the arguments put forth by MTM, the “initial interest confusion” which Amazon’s search results cause for potential buyers of the company’s Special Ops watch style constitutes trademark infringement because it ‘”impermissibly capitalizes on the goodwill associated with a mark and is therefore actionable trademark infringement”.
An Amazon representative could not immediately be reached for comment.
MTM is aggrieved that Amazon responds to a search request for “MTM Special Ops” with a page that displays similar watches manufactured by MTM’s competitors. Because of this, the Court of Appeals says “a jury could find that Amazon has created a likelihood of confusion”.
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 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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