Originally posted 2013-02-26 20:38:54.
Muti Time Machine Inc, v. Amazon.com deals with the question of whether Amazon’s search results violate trademark law. Multi Time Machine sued Amazon for copyright infringement. For those of us who are familiar with Amazon, we have probably found ourselves searching for something on Amazon, adding it to our shopping bag, and then proceeding to find another ten items we would also like to buy. There is no doubt that Amazon benefits customers in the way that it offers complementary and competitive products. On the other hand this does not make many trademark owners happy as they may loose the purchase to a competitor.
The plaintiff Muti Time Machine makes expensive military and tactical watches. It tightly controls its distribution channel. They do those for the sole of reason of attempting to prevent Amazon from reselling their products. However, it appears that all of the Multi Time Machine watches, which are on Amazon, are received and posted through competitors like Luminox and Chase-Durer.
This is not a typical trademark lawsuit where the trademark owner sues its competitor for copying their product too closely, rather, this is a case involving the trademark owner suing the retailer for merchandising the competitor’s items.
The court has ruled on Amazon’s behalf stating that Amazon’s search results clearly state what they are doing to their customers, which makes their customers aware of where they are buying their products. What sort of implications does this have? The court rules that as long as viewers understand the relationship between search query and search results that the search engines should not suffer infringement.
United States District Court Central Court of California