Re-trial ordered in Interflora Ad words case

A panel of Court of Appeal judges have ordered a re-trial in the long running trade mark dispute between Interflora and Marks & Spencer.
The dispute between the two companies has been running for nearly five years now, since 2008 when Interflora launched trade mark infringement proceedings against Marks & Spencer in respect of its bidding on the ‘Interflora’ keyword term, this triggered advertisements that linked to Marks & Spencer’s florist services.

In 2008 internet giant Google relaxed its UK policies which relate to competitors bidding on keywords incorporating their competitor’s trade mark. It is this policy that allowed Marks & Spencer to bid for the Interflora keyword term that is at the centre of this trade mark infringement dispute.
Today the UK Court of Appeal overturned the first instance decision by Mr Justice Arnold in favour of Interflora and has allowed Marks & Spencer’s appeal and remitted the case back to the High Court for retrial. The case is thought to be the first ever UK trade mark infringement case that is set for re-trial.

The Court of Appeal identified a number of errors of law made by the trial judge and therefore said it could not be confident that the judge would have come to the same conclusion if the errors identified had not been made. The Court of Appeal decided that it could not determine the issue of infringement as no oral evidence was heard and further it was not taken to the right documents. Therefore on the basis of this the Court of Appeal decided not to overturn the original High Court ruling but instead chose to remit the case back to the High Court for a retrial.

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Written by: Fozia Cheychi – A work experience student

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