Interflora to go toe-to-toe with M&S over Google ads

13 October 2010

The Interflora legal team spring into action

Interflora has kicked off an almighty row via a European legal challenge against Marks and Spencer over the store's (alleged) piggy-backing on Google searches for the flower vendor's website.

The BBC report that M&S paid Google to promote its own flower business in search results any time a user looks up Interflora's name. As such, a link to M&S would appear directly below Interflora's in the sponsored links section.

This isn't the first time someone has tried something like this. A similar case was thrown at Google from luxuries firm LVMH (famous for its Louis Vuitton wing) who claimed that Google was unfairly promoting third-party retailers in its sponsored search results. Google won that one.

However, the Interflora case is different. LVMH didn't lose any business via Google's actions, however, M&S is promoting its flower business in direct competition to Interflora. M&S has also paid Google for keywords which includes Interflora's name in the AdWords system.

M&S said that it is "industry wide practice, which we say is not unlawful". Interflora declined to comment, but are understood to be suing its competitor for buying those keywords.

Google, of course, are saying nothing about all this.


  • Paul C.
    Seems like Interflora are crying over nothing - this is indeed a standard practice by many national companies. Welcome to the internet age, Interflora. You bunch of pansies.
  • Chris F.
    well, i suppose if you own a trademarked name, technically they could argue that google have no right to sell it as an adword except to the trademark holder.
  • Rafe D.
    Interflora have denied that they're buying the keywords for M&S and redirecting them to goatse.
  • Rumplestiltskin
    Google 'Interflora' and you also get ASDA Flowers!
  • sueme
    yeah, so ASDA are going to get sued, but less than M&S. lol :)
  • M4RKM
    That reminds me.. I need to nip to Asda tonight to buy some milk....
  • Alexis
    How are M&S's action any different from if they'd paid a newspaper to slap a sticker advertising them at the bottom of every Interflora advert running that day?
  • Rumina
    It is indeed standard practice to be able to "brand" bid on competitors' company names. The only time it is not allowed is when the rival company's name is a trademark. In this case Google does actually require you to fill out a trademark authorisation form which requires you to get approval of the company whose name you want to bid on. If Interflora do not have trademark rights to their company name, then it's fair game...
  • squadron l.
    Trademark info at
  • Mark C.
    Hmm, wonder if the fact that the trademark is registered in the US means M&S have some wiggle room on this one? Though regardless, if Interflora is worried about the competition, it should offer a better service or better prices - they tend to be screamingly expensive for bouquest that can be bettered for half the price by your local florist. I'm also puzzled about teh bit which states the name Interflora "must not be used as a generic term, a noun or a common verb". Er, but it is a noun, isn't it?
  • rob
    I think they mean in the way that people would say 'google it' or call a shitty vaccum cleaner a hoover?

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