Google Presses Judge To Send Edible Arrangements' Suit To Arbitration

Pressing for dismissal of a lawsuit brought by gift company Edible Arrangements, Google argues in new court papers that its contract with advertisers requires arbitration of all claims related to its ad programs.

Google says in papers filed this week with U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shea in New Haven that its terms of service "expressly require arbitration of 'all disputes and claims'" that "relate in any way" to its ad programs.

The gift basket company, which is itself a Google advertiser, alleged in a complaint filed 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.

The 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.

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Edible Arrangements alleged in its complaint that users who search for "Edible Arrangements" are taken to 'product listing advertisements' that feature ads for competitors. The company says it has received "numerous" phone calls from customers who mistakenly placed orders with competitors after using Google.

Google responded by arguing that the matter belongs in arbitration. The company says that as a search advertiser, Edible Arrangements accepted Google's terms and conditions, which require arbitration of all disputes.

Edible Arrangements countered that the arbitration agreement doesn't cover its current dispute, arguing that the trademark battle is independent of its participation in Google's ad programs.

Google is asking Shea to reject that position. The company argues that Edible Arrangement's claim is related to advertising, and must be sent to arbitration for that reason.

"Plainly, Google is not seeking to apply the arbitration to just 'any tort,' such as a personal injury someone might sustain walking across Google’s campus," the company argues. "Edible Arrangements’ claims fall within the scope of the Terms’ arbitration agreement because the claims 'arise out of or relate in any way to the programs,' i.e. Google’s advertising programs."

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