Interweb Death Match: Edina Realty vs. theMLSonline.com

by Alex Stenback on March 30, 2006

According to ZDnet.com, Edina Realty has sued competitor theMLSonline for "false advertising, trademark infringement, and trademark dilution," and the US District Court in Minnesota has ruled that the suit can go to trial. 

Apparently, theMLSonline had been buying the keywords "Edina Realty" on Yahoo and Google, as well as placing those same words in hidden links and text in their website.  Edina Realty was sufficiently offended by this practice to file suit. 

As it happens, this is kind of a landmark case.  From Eric Goldman at the Technology and Marketing Law Blog:

There have been many lawsuits involving keyword advertising, but in most of the reported decisions, the search engines were the defendants…That’s what makes this case significant. I think this is the first case
substantively analyzing a purchaser’s liability for buying a
competitor’s keyword.

It will be interesting to watch this unfold, but theMLSonline.com does not appear to be running scared – a google search for Edina Realty still turns up theMLSonline.com as the top sponsored result.
· Google Keyword Infringement Case to Proceed [ZDNet.com]
· Edina Realty vs. TheMLSonline [Ericgoldman.org]

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ed Kohler March 30, 2006 at 10:28 am

Previous search engine advertising trademark cases have involved suing the search engine. American Blind and Geico’s cases against Google come to mind.

This should be an interesting case. Edina Realty is certainly a trademarked company name, but TheMLSOnline.com could probably argue that a person could be searching for a realty company in Edina that isn’t necessarily Edina Realty. In some ways, the case would be more interesting if Edina Realty’s trademark didn’t consist of two generic words.

Editor March 30, 2006 at 10:35 am

This was the same conversation I had this morning – my guess is the lawyers will be working overtime to muddy these waters as much as possible.

Then maybe the city of Edina sues Edina Realty for using Edina.com

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