Airbnb irks rival by launching birdhouse ad campaign.
Publicly traded vacation rental site HomeAway (NASDAQ: AWAY) has sued upstart rival Airbnb for trademark infringement after the latter launched an ad campaign featuring birdhouses.
HomeAway’s logo prominently features a birdhouse, and the company uses birdhouses as its sort of “mascot.”
A birdhouse is featured at HomeAway’s Austin headquarters and new employees design their own birdhouses. In its lawsuit (pdf), the company makes it clear that Airbnb is well aware of the company’s marks related to birdhouses for promoting its overall brand:
Defendant is well aware of HomeAway and its Birdhouse Mark. In 2001, the CEO of Defendant visited the headquarters of HomeAway. He was given a personal tour of HomeAway’s headquarters and physically stood inside the large replica of the Birdhouse Mark that dominates the upper level of HomeAway’s Austin, Texas headquarters. See Decl. at ¶13, Exhibit 8.
Last week Airbnb launched an ad campaign titled “Home to You,” which HomeAway says is part of its push into the vacation rental business (as opposed to rentals just in large cities). A companion site at Birdbnb.com prominently features birdhouses, and the campaign is centered around 50 birdhouses that are featured in a video.
HomeAway argues that this violates its trademarks, including its stylized marks for its birdhouse design.
I have to admit, this certainly looks bad on the part of Airbnb.
(Yes, this suit has nothing to do with domain names. It’s a slow news week due to the holidays, so deal with it.)