Angie’s List sues ServiceMagic over Google ads

Company sues lead generation firm over competitive AdWords ads.

Angie’s List (NASDAQ: ANGI), the subscription based service to find contractors, has filed a lawsuit against lead generation company ServiceMagic over ads it purchased on Google Adwords.

According to the complaint, ServiceMagic is buying Google AdWords ads for the term “Angie’s List”. Here’s an ad I saw when searching today. Angie’s List is on top, followed by a witty ad from ServiceMagic:

The suit (pdf) includes example ads that include a variant of “Angie’s List” in the URL, such as That URL leads to a comparison page that shows the difference between Angie’s List and ServiceMagic.

A number of lawsuits have been filed over Google AdWords being triggered for trademark terms. This one might be interesting to watch.


  1. James says

    In print, radio, and tv advertising, it has been ruled that a company can make valid comparisons between themselves and their competitors, using the competition’s name in the ad (usually with small print recognizing the competitor’s trademark and disclaiming their endorsement of the ad). It will be interesting to see if the courts see this as an extension of that fair use, or as something entirely different. I’m frankly not of any particular opinion yet, and will be following these cases to see where higher courts eventually end up on this.

  2. says

    It’s a little easier going after the actual advertiser than it is Google, but damages are often hard to prove.
    Professor Goldman over at the Technology and Marketing Law Blog keeps a running score card for these types of cases.
    Comparisons are usually fair game and I am not sure a consumer would be confused thinking it was going to Angie’s List rather than Service Magic, but I will be following to see what happens.

  3. FarmerJohn says

    Great move by a company incapable of coming up with an original idea and so decided to steal one from Craig’s List.

  4. Interested Paul says

    Let’s face it these two highly competitive companies have been at it for a while and the legitimacy of any alligations from either will be a daunting task for any legal structure. To come up with any compromise will never be justified by either so let the battle continue but I will follow knowing well there may never ba a winner.

  5. Jim says

    What a joke. Angie’s List is filled with inaccurate, bogus referrals from people who never even hired the contractor they are raving about. They stole the Service Magic concept because they couldn’t come up with anything better themselves. Now they file a petty lawsuit which will get thrown out of court faster than a lawyer can say “trivial”.

    • says

      Not passing judgement on the lawsuit, but I wouldn’t call the Angie’s List concept anything like ServiceMagic.

      Angie’s List is like a review site. ServiceMagic is old school lead gen.

  6. Ben says

    After reading the material and respective comments about it, I believe the following is true:


    Jim (last posted on June 15, 2012) is likely a Service Magic employee and a complete idiot who needs to be ignored.


    I sincerely hope Service Magic is held responsible for their reprehensible behavior and forced to pay out until they are no longer in business.

  7. Todd A. Storer says

    ServiceMagic lied to me about their process for vetting potential clients and then proceeded to inundate me with “leads” of an utterly worthless nature. Additionally, they charged according to their rather liberal definition of what the job consisted of (i.e., regrouting some tile work as a “bathroom remodel”). I was utterly unable to achieve an even remotely satisfactory working relationship with them, and in fact was unable to access my account for four days, by which time they had charged me nearly three hundred dollars for their woefully inadequate services. They prey on the hopes and desires of men and women who are simply trying to earn an honest dollar, and I for one would like to see them exposed and prosecuted for breach of contract and bad faith.

  8. Jen says

    Let’s face it, Angie’s List has never turned a profit and is millions in the red quarter after quarter and ServiceMagic is growning strong with record profits. Angie’s List saw an opportunity to finally make some money and went after ServiceMagic! If you don’t believe me look at both companies quarterly reports posted online as public information.

  9. says

    Let’s face it, many companies have turned profits for years on end finally to sink into a dark abyss for lack of customer service and business ethics (Circuit City, AOL).

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