Apple Being Sued in Europe Over 'iWatch' Ad Campaign on Google

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Irish software development studio Probendi is suing Apple in a Milan court for using its "iWatch" trademark in Europe as part of a Google AdWords campaign, reports Bloomberg. Apple has been paying for sponsored links on Google in an attempt to redirect users that search for "iWatch" to the Apple Watch website, in order to avoid missing out on customers that search for the wrong product name.

“Apple has systematically used iWatch wording on Google search engine in order to direct customers to its own website, advertising Apple Watch,” says a tribunal filing obtained by Bloomberg. “Apple never replied to our requests and objections, while Google said they are not responsible for links.”

probendi-logo
"iWatch" was a commonly used name to refer to Apple's much-rumored smartwatch before it was released, however the device was ultimately named the Apple Watch. Apple filed for "iWatch" trademarks in Japan, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan, Turkey and other countries, but Probendi has owned the trademark in Europe since 2008 for its health and safety communication software.

iWatch Google
Google's AdWords trademark policy states that it "will investigate and may enforce certain restrictions on the use of that trademark in AdWords text ads," but the company has yet to take any action against Apple. As of writing, searching for "iWatch" on Google in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and multiple other European countries still displays Apple Watch sponsored text ads.

Probendi originally planned to capitalize on Apple's announcement of the Apple Watch last year by using its "iWatch" trademark in Europe to launch its own Android smartwatch, but company director Daniele Di Salvo now says the project is “in standby.”

A hearing in the iWatch case is scheduled for November 11.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 6, watchOS 7
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

Top Rated Comments

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66 months ago

Probendi originally planned to capitalize on Apple's announcement of the Apple Watch last year by using its "iWatch" trademark in Europe to launch its own Android smartwatch ('https://www.macrumors.com/2014/10/29/probendi-android-iwatch/'), but company director Daniele Di Salvo now says the project is "in standby."

This bit paints a picture.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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66 months ago
This is quite a silly lawsuit. Oh well, nothing like a company that is struggling to stay in business sue Apple to try and stay afloat.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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66 months ago
Apple Watch = a watch.

iWatch = health and safety communication software.

Where is the scope for consumer confusion with their products / services, exactly?

Move along, Probendi.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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66 months ago
So Coca-Cola is not allowed to use 'Pepsi' as a sponsored link? I don't know of any law that says this is illegal.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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66 months ago
I own an online advertising agency that manages Google Adwords ads for many clients and I'm a Certified Google Adwords Professional. You can bid on any trademarked keyword, but you can not include the trademarked word in your ad.

The people who manage Apple's ads on Google did nothing wrong here.

Anyone who does this for a living knows these specific details about Google's advertising policies, so it's a level playing field. For example, Probendi (or anyone else) could even bid on the keyword "apple watch" and there's nothing Apple can do about it as long as "apple watch" isn't anywhere in the ad text.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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66 months ago

Yep, because I can release a trike called a BMW, (which is not a car), and they wouldn’t get upset about it.

Actually BMW manufacturers motorcycles. It's very similar, so yes, they would get upset about it. Now if your BMW made waffles, then shoot for the stars buddy.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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