Air conditioning company sues over Adwords search terms and logo use.
Online lead generation company Reply! Inc has been sued by air conditioning company Carrier for alleged trademark infringement (pdf).
Reply generates and sells leads to various businesses, including air conditioning contractors. It buys ads on Google and other search engines, including for the term “Carrier”:
When users click on the Adwords ad, they land at a page with the Carrier logo offering air conditioning quotes:
Carrier is upset about Reply bidding on its brand on Google, using its logo on the landing page, and using carrier.reply.com as a “domain name”. It says that the quote form isn’t actually to just compare Carrier units, but air conditioning in general.
The company alleges “cyberpiracy prevention” on the use of carrier.reply.com. One of the suggested remedies is for Reply to transfer the carrier.reply.com domain name. But it’s not actually a transferable domain; it’s just a subdomain or third level domain name.
Interestingly, it appears that Reply is using a fake URL in its Adwords campaigns. If you click the ad it brings you to a different landing page that isn’t carrier.reply.com. Reply wildcards any subdomain to its homepage. Try typing in something.reply.com to see.
A lot of lead generation companies using brand logos and bid on brand search terms even though they are selling leads not for one specific brand. It will be interesting to see if this reverberates in the lead gen business.