Amazon Asks Court To Reject Watch Company's Bid To Revive Lawsuit

Amazon is asking a federal appeals court to reject watch manufacturer Multi Time Machine's attempt to revive a lawsuit accusing the retail company of duping consumers with its search engine results.

The Web retailer argues that the trial judge correctly determined that Multi Time Machine didn't prove that consumers are confused when they search for “Multi Time” watches and Amazon returns listings or other brands. “To allow the possibility of trademark infringement in this case would prevent Amazon from delivering relevant information in response to Internet consumers’ search queries,” the company says in papers filed on Tuesday with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Multi Time Machine, which sells $2,000 watches, alleged in a 2011 trademark infringement lawsuit that Amazon's search engine tricks consumers by returning results for other, cheaper timepieces when consumers search for “Multi Time Machine.”

This February, U.S. District Court Judge Dean Pregerson in the Central District of California threw out the case, ruling that Multi Time Machine didn't present enough evidence to show that Amazon's practices confused consumers. The company has appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where it's arguing that Amazon should have explicitly told users that the search results might not include ads for the brands they were seeking.

Amazon says in its court papers that Pregerson correctly “determined that the context and presentation of the search results show that consumers are not likely to be confused.”

The company adds that search engines do more than simply match users' queries to brand names. “Just because a consumer types a particular product brand into the search query box does not necessarily mean that the consumer is only or even at all interested in that particular branded product. Consumers may use a trademark as a search term if they are looking for competitors or compatible components, or as a shorthand for a certain category of products,” Amazon argues. “Indeed, because of the vast amount of information in Amazon’s catalog, including product information and reviews, many consumers use as a research tool.”

Amazon isn't the only company that lets trademarked terms trigger search ads for rivals' products. Google has faced numerous lawsuits for allowing companies to use their rivals brand names to trigger search ads. To date, no court has ruled that Google's practice automatically infringes trademark.
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