Los Angeles – Reply! Inc., an online lead generation company is being sued by air-conditioning company Carrier for trademark infringement. Reply sells its online leads to various businesses, including air conditioning contractors.
In addition to trademark infringement, Carrier is also alleging cyber piracy on the use of the domain, carrier.reply.com. Carrier also has an issue with Reply bidding on its brand on Google and then using the Carrier logo on the landing page in connection with the domain name. When consumers click on the Google Ad Words ad, they are directed to a page with the Carrier logo which offers air conditioning price quotes. Carrier is upset at the fact that consumers aren’t only quoted on Carrier units, but air conditioning units from other contractors as well.
The complaint, filed in the United States District Court in Massachusetts, alleges trademark infringement and dilution, unfair competition, and intentional and malicious conversion of Carrier’s trade names and/or trademarks. Carrier is demanding that Reply be enjoined from using “Carrier” (1) in any trademark, (2) on search engines, (3) in the domain on on the web page at carrier.reply.com, and (4) on any other website and domain name including the term “Carrier.”
It appears to us that Carrier has a strong case against Reply. It is quite common for lead generation companies to bid on brand search terms even though they are selling leads for other competing brands. Depending on the outcome of this case, changes may be in store for how these companies use search engine marketing to generate leads.