Amazon is going to trial over "confusing" similar products in search results

By dkpope
Jul 7, 2015
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  1. Amazon is facing a trademark lawsuit brought on by a watchmaker which says the online store’s search results can confuse potential customers, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday.

    The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued a 2-1 opinion saying that the high-end watchmaker Multi Time Machine Inc. is entitled to a trial on its trademark allegations, reversing a lower court ruling.

    The watch raising the issue is the MTM Special Ops, a military style watch that is not sold on Amazon. However, if an Amazon shopper searches for it, the site doesn’t explicitly say it does not carry the watch. Instead, the search results, with MTM Special Ops in the search field, display similar watches made by different brands.

    MTM sued Amazon because they say this could be confusing for shoppers and encourage potential MTM customers to buy a competitor's watch.

    "We think a jury could find that Amazon has created a likelihood of confusion," the court wrote.

    MTM would prefer that Amazon state that they don’t carry any MTM products, but the change seems a bit unnecessary. Savvy online shoppers will understand that Amazon is just recommending similar products and MTM watches can be found elsewhere.

    Judge Barry Silverman agreed. He was the lone dissenting voice saying "No reasonably prudent consumer accustomed to shopping online would likely be confused as to the source of the products."

    After the federal appeals court decision, the lawsuit returns to the district court in Los Angeles.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Why don't they just sell their products on Amazon then? If I go to a store and ask for product X and they don't have it, I am perfectly fine with a comparable recommendation.
  3. mosu

    mosu TS Guru Posts: 416   +43

    My point exactly. On a side note, they assume shoppers are stupid and easy to lure to another product. I wish someone sue them on my behalf.
    NeoFlux likes this.
  4. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    If I am in the market for an MTM watch, I'll know which watches are not MTM. Anyone buying a product that does not fully understand which brand they are getting, deserves what they are getting.
  5. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Maniac Posts: 936   +242

    IMO, search results on Amazon are total, unabashedly sh!t just as they are on most search engines these days. It does not matter what you are searching for, all search engines return results that are complete sh!t and unrelated to what you are actually searching for. This is Amazon's business model. If it can confuse the consumer into making a purchase, then they have improved their bottom line. Amazon courts impulse buyers, and returning search results that are vague bolsters that model. I, for one, am totally sick of having to pore through search results on sites like Amazon and the major search engines for results that are truly relevant to my search.

    The only reason search results on virtually any search engine these days are $hit is that if you click on a result, the engine gets paid for it. Same thing on Amazon, if you buy something without paying full attention to what you are buying, Amazon made the sale.

    IMO, the FTC should rake Amazon over the coals for their sh!tty search engine.
  6. RebelFlag

    RebelFlag TS Addict Posts: 134   +66

    So basically they are saying that Amazon's search results are no different than the results you would get if you searched for MTM on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. What a waste of time.
  7. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Maniac Posts: 936   +242

    Actually, I was the one saying that the results from Amazon's search engine are no better than Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.

    What the lawsuit states is that if someone searches for MTM on Amazon, it returns results even though Amazon does not sell MTM watches, thus, perhaps, leading people to buy a watch other than the MTM watch.

    As I see it, there has to be some intelligence behind the code that runs the search engine in order to recognize that by searching for "MTM Special Ops", the user is searching for a military style watch since the word "watch" was not in the search terms and Amazon does not carry the watch. I am not a lawyer, but I would think that MTM might have a case here. If Amazon did carry the watch, they could argue that they were presenting results that were similar to the item searched for, but this is something completely different and, at the very least, misleading, IMO.
  8. Tanstar

    Tanstar TS Guru Posts: 392   +81

    I think you're just not very good at searches. The very first word on the titles of each of those watches (I just did the search) is the brand name. If you are that easily fooled then you weren't going to have that money long anyway. If you searched with the actual brand name, rather than the abbreviation, no watches come up.

    The only way Amazon can avoid this kind of result is
    1. Have every single patented item that someone might search for (and the abbreviations of said companies/items) programmed in so they always know if you are looking up a brand.
    2. Only give you results that are EXACTLY what you searched for. You search for "Mickey Mouse"? Sorry! Only listed under "Disney's Mickey Mouse".

    Amazon's search isn't the problem. *****s are the problem.

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