Edible Arrangements, which is suing Google over the way it displays ads for rival gift companies, is fighting the company's attempt to send the case arbitration.
The gift basket company, which is itself a Google advertiser, alleged in February that Google dupes consumers who search for "Edible Arrangements" by showing them ads for competitors. Edible Arrangements claims that these ads violate its trademark.
Google recently argued that the matter belongs in arbitration because, as a search advertiser, Edible Arrangements accepted Google's terms and conditions. But Edible Arrangements counters that the arbitration agreement doesn't cover its current dispute with Google.
"Edible Arrangements has properly brought this action before this court to vindicate its valuable intellectual property rights, which exist independent of Edible Arrangements’ participation in Google’s advertising programs or any assent to Google’s Terms and Conditions," the gift basket company argues in papers filed this week with U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shea in New Haven.
Edible Arrangement's complaint centers on "product listing ads" that appear on the right-hand side of the search results pages and include small graphic images. A link above the ads takes people to a Google Shopping page.
Edible Arrangements alleged that people who search for the name "Edible Arrangements" are taken to product listing ads that feature competitors. "Google thus misleads consumers into making a 'connection' between Edible Arrangements and these competitors’ products," the company said in its lawsuit. Edible Arrangements added that it has received phone calls from customers who mistakenly placed orders with competitors after using Google.
Edible Arrangements says in its new court papers that the dispute is outside the scope of its arbitration agreement with Google. "To hold otherwise would effectively insulate Google from any federal or state tort actions brought by one of its customers, regardless of its factual connection to the plaintiff’s contractual relationship with Google," the company says.