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Argos UK against Argos US : Google ads, domains, and trademarks

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British firm Argos Limited recently faced Argos Systems, Inc., an American software company in a court of law.

Both companies operate from “Argos” domains: Argos Limited from Argos.co.uk and Argos Systems Inc. from Argos.com.

The latter, registered the domain in 1992, after it started trading under the name ARGOS in 1991. The company has no clients in the European Union, and apparently never attempted to tap that market.

As both companies use Google ad services, Argos “UK” used AdWords to promote its non-food retail products; the company is well known in the UK and Ireland.

Meanwhile, Argos “US” used AdSense to display related ads between 2008 and 2015 on its web site. From 2012 to 2014, Argos “US” configured its web site so that only visitors outside of the US and South America were shown ads.

Argos “UK” sued, claiming trademark infringement, as they own a registered trademark for ARGOS related to “advertising services” and retail and other related services.

Google Analytics, however, showed that since 2012 when the geo-targeting ad display commenced, 89% of targeted traffic to Argos.com was from the UK and Ireland, but 85% would leave the web site immediately.

This indicated that there was no confusion to the visitor regarding whether they had reached their intended destination, Argos.co.uk.

The judge decided on behalf of Argos Systems, Inc. but the case has been appealed by Argos UK.

For the record, Argos is the name of a Greek city, one of the oldest continuously populated cities in the world.

It’s also the name of Odysseus’ faithful dog, who recognized its master despite his 20 year absence due to the Trojan War.

For more details on this fascinating story, visit Bond Dickinson.


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