A German court has banned Redwood City, CA-based portal and search engine Excite Inc. and cosmetics retailer iBeauty, formerly The Fragrance Counter Inc., from using the Estee Lauder, Clinique and Origins trademarks on their sites. All trademarks are owned by New York-based Estee Lauder Companies.
The District Court of Hamburg said the use of the Estee Lauder trademarks as keywords to trigger iBeauty banner ads on Excite.com exploited the brands' reputation and was unfair competition under German law.
Also, Excite and iBeauty.com have been restrained from displaying the Estee Lauder or Clinique trademarks in iBeauty.com banners ads. The ruling, which may be appealed by Excite and iBeauty, is valid only in Germany.
Estee Lauder has another two lawsuits pending against the same companies in the U. S. District Court for the Southern District in New York and one in Paris.
The legal dust-up between Estee Lauder and Excite goes way back. Estee Lauder first sued Excite in January 1999 for selling the cosmetics marketer's Estee Lauder and Origins brand names as keywords to Brentwood, NY-based Fragrance Counter, a rival to Estee Lauder.
Searches by Excite.com users on either of the Estee Lauder trademarks directly pulled up a Fragrance Counter banner ad. Excite has had similar problems with cataloger Crutchfield, which it settled out of court.