Home Decorators/Home Depot and Google allegedly engaged in Trademark Infringement and Unfair Business Practices negatively impacting Home Decor Center
GARDENA, Calif., Jan. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — The Home Depot, a company widely known for retailing home improvement and construction products and services was recently sued for trademark infringement by Home Decor Center, a small business known for retailing area rugs, accent furniture and home accessories both in-store and online since 2007.
Home Decorators, which is owned by The Home Depot engages in the same business as Home Decor Center. The Home Depot allegedly used Home Decor Center’s domain name for its Google Ad Words advertisements, redirecting consumers to the site HomeDecorators.com. This was first discovered on September of 2011, when Home Decor Center allegedly received a high volume of complaints from customers that apparently were not in their system. They also had an unusual decrease of sales by 60%. It was also discovered that The Home Depot’s paid advertisements for their websitewww.HomeDecorators.com, as published in Google’s search engine, claimed that this was “the official website forHomeDecorCenter.com,” which was Home Decor Center’s registered website since 2007. Home Decor Center alleges that, as a result of these erroneously linked advertisement, consumers seeking to access its website were misdirected to The Home Depot’s HomeDecorators.com website, causing Home Decor Center to lose a high number of customers and was forced to make refunds and price adjustments.
Home Decor Center alleges that as a result of Home Depot’s alleged unfair business practices and trademark infringement, instead of a gradual growth in sales, Home Decor Center has lost a substantial amount of business.
Home Decor Center has a legal trademark certification issued by The United States Patent and Trademark Office and owns the registered domain ‘HomeDecorCenter.com.’ Home Decor Center filed a lawsuit against The Home Depot and Google in the California Superior Court for state trademark violations and unfair competition. Google was alleged to be liable for its involvement in the creation of the content of these Ad Words advertisements in addition to their knowledge about these violations and authorization to allow them to continue. The Home Depot moved the case to the United States District Court in the California Central District. Home Decor Center then filed a First Amended Complaint on July 25th 2012, and pleaded nine causes of action, including: 1) Federal Trademark infringement and Unfair Competition under 15 U.S.C 1125 (a) 2) Unfair Competition, under the Lanham Act 3) Unfair business practices under Cal. Bus and Prof Code Section 17200 4) Trademark infringement under the Lanham Act 5) Contributory trademark infringement 6) Vicarious trademark infringement under the Lanham Act 7) Injunctive relief 8) Interference with prospective contractual relations and 9) Passing off under the Lanham Act. Google, along with The Home Depot through joinder, filed a Motion to Dismiss the Plaintiff’s lawsuit in its entirety with respect to all of the causes of action. The Motion to Dismiss was heard on September 20, 2011 by Honorable George H Wu who denied Google’s request to dismiss the entire lawsuit holding that the Federal Trademark causes of action will not be dismissed as long as Home Decor Center can allege that both Google and The Home Depot were responsible for the creation of the content of the allegedly infringing advertisements. Home Decor Center then amended the Complaint and both The Home Depot and Google filed their answers denying all allegations. A jury trial is currently set for this matter on June 25, 2013. Google is represented by Bostwick & Jassy LLP, and The Home Depot by Crone Hawxhurst, both Los Angeles law firms, while Home Decor Center is represented by the Law Offices of Christopher K Jafari in Orange County. Refer to Case No. CV-12-05706 GW(SHx)
SOURCE Home Decor Center