U-Haul, 1-800 Contacts Join Anti-Pop-Up Bandwagon

from the trespassing? dept

It seems that Gator isn’t alone in pissing off companies by putting popups of competitors over certain sites. U-Haul and 1-800 Contacts both have decided to sue some company named Where-U that places additional pop ups on their sites, that link to competitors of U-Haul and 1-800 Contacts. While I think any spyware company that uses pop-ups deserves to be sued just for being annoying, I’m not convinced that what they’re doing is actually illegal.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “U-Haul, 1-800 Contacts Join Anti-Pop-Up Bandwagon”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

You don't see why it's illegal?

If you are paying for a website to display your ad, and someone else is interrupting that ad and replacing it with a competitor’s ad, you’re essentially paying for your competitor’s ad.

Imagine if someone created a TV set-top box that let everyone (legally) get a channel for free that would normally be a pay channel, but in return it was going to replace all the ads on all the other channels with the ads of their choosing.

The people who are watching the TVs sure aren’t going to care, but the people who paid for the ads that you were supposed to be watching (and that paid for the programming on all those other channels) sure have a right to demand a portion of their money back (i.e., if 20% of consumers have this particular set-top box, then they should only have to pay 80% of the standard rate for commercials).

It’s even worse if instead of just random ad replacement it’s intentionally replacing an ad for a hauling company (U-Haul) with a competitors (Where-U), as appears to be the case here.

This reminds me of the cursor-jacking that Comet Cursor was (is?) involved with and the various online airline ticket purchase sites.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: You don't see why it's illegal?

Yeah, that’s what Gator got in trouble for doing, but I think this is a little different. This is for when people go visit uhaul.com, suddenly they get a pop up for some other rental van place or something. So it’s not covering up another ad, it’s just popping up when you visit a competitors’ site.

In some ways, it’s similar to the situation in Silicon Valley right next to Oracle’s headquarters. There’s a billboard right on the highway as you pass the offices that always seems to be rented out to an Oracle competitor. Right now I think it’s IBM. However, I remember a few years back when Informix had it, and they painted it to read: “You just passed Oracle. So did we.”

If anything, I think all pop up ads should be illegal for “trespassing” – but I doubt that’s what’s going on here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: You don't see why it's illegal?

I think the claim in this case is straightforward trademark infringement, or contributory infringement on the part of the popup company. If I’ve paid to have my trademark advertised, and you’ve arranged to have someone else’s trademark there instead, and they’re a competitor, then that’s pretty classic infringement on my mark. The difference between this and the Oracle billboard is that the competitors don’t claim to *be* Oracle, just to be better than Oracle.

Chris Falco (user link) says:


remember all the rules for cybersquatting domain names, and how many people had to turn over their domains to copyright holders becuase their names were close to the original and would cause consumer confusion (although many times that was BS, fordsucks.com is obiously not ford).

I would think placing and ad over a competing website would cause consumer confusion, especially because many people don’t realise the ad is not coming from the website they are visiting… hey that sounds like a really good way to ban popups completely.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...