Amazon Sued Over Google Ads Bought By Affiliates
from the this-won't-last-long dept
Ah, yet another lawsuit over Google ads. These just never seem to stop. The latest, found via Michael Scott, has a few interesting elements, however. In this case, a small online retailer of used cameras and electronics, Sellify, is suing Amazon, not over its own ads, but ads of Amazon affiliates. The two main complaints are over trademark violations of buying keywords, and then defamation. Defamation? Yes, because apparently when people do searches on Sellify or some of its related trademarked names, like OneQuality, some of the ads that come up say things like:
Beware of the SCAM Artist
Camcorders at the Best Price
From the Trusted Source
So that’s a bit different than the usual keyword advertising claim. The only problem, of course, is that these ads are placed by Amazon affiliates, and any defamation claim almost certainly should fall under a Section 230 safe harbor that protects Amazon. The claims in the lawsuit that Sellify notified Amazon are meaningless. Basically, Sellify is suing the wrong party. They might have an argument if they sued the affiliates in question, but they appear to have chosen to focus instead on the big, easy target. But, the whole purpose of Section 230 is so that you can’t just focus on the big, easy target, but have to sue those actually responsible.
Now, trademark claims, however, are not covered by Section 230, so we’re back to the standard legal questions in these sorts of competitive keyword advertising claims. But this has been covered a lot, and many courts have found that there is no trademark violation in competitive ads on trademarked keywords, so it’s hard to see that one getting very far either. It seems like the only argument the company might have is a potential defamation claim if it were filed against the affiliates. But the lawsuit against Amazon seems like a long shot.