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Interflora trademark dispute with M&S reopened in high court

A landmark court case between flower retailer Interflora and Mark and Spencer (M&S) over the firm’s alleged use of the Interflora trademark has been filed to the high court for a retrial.

Interflora is a worldwide flower distribution brand

Last May the High Court of England and Wales ordered M&S to stop using Interflora’s trademark as a Google AdWord to advertise its flowers and gifts, in a dispute which kicked off in 2008.

The court ruled that M&S would have to suspend its use of the brand as it was harming the flower producer’s online visibility. Its use of the term Interflora, dropped the flower retailer down the organic search index on Google. Furthermore, M&S used the trademark to promote its own flowers and gifts.

Michael Barringer, marketing director at Interflora, said: “Interflora continues to believe that the evidence before the court supports a finding of infringement and we are going forward on that basis to the retrial.

“The Court of Appeal's decision to ask the High Court to look at all the evidence again backs the hard work and effort that everyone at Interflora has put in to defending the Interflora brand.

“People searching the internet for ‘Interflora’ want "Interflora, the flower experts" and no one else. We are very proud of the Interflora brand, and want to protect it for our customers, our florists and our future. Accordingly, we believe it is right to continue to protect the brand through this court action.”

Matthew Dick, partner at trade mark and patent attorneys, D Young & Co, told The Drum:"The Interflora judgment has questioned a number of key elements of European trade mark law, and in particular how the use of keywords in internet advertising are to be assessed by the courts in terms of trade mark infringement.

"In what is a rare occurrence, the court of appeal has sent the case back to the high court for a retrial on the main claim of infringement."

Dick added: "It has also suggested that the recently-developed concept of 'initial interest confusion' (where a consumer may be initially misled by use of a trade mark, but that confusion is then dispelled before it can be acted upon) may be flawed as a matter of principle."

The case has been reopened following a M&S appeal.