Legal updates

One cannot build a website to seem like a website of a competitor and so that a Google search will reach it instead of the website of the competitor

January 28, 2021

The owner of an online pet supply business wrote on his website the name of another pet supply store and thus, a search on the GOOGLE search engine of the other pet store name would redirect the traffic to his website.
The Court held that the use of the competitor's details on the website constitutes a tort of passing-off but nevertheless dismissed the claim due to failure to prove the elements of the tort. The purpose of the tort of passing-off is to provide protection against infringement of a proprietary right in reputation as a result of a impersonating another. The test is an objective test, in which it examined whether there is a reasonable concern that a consumer may be confused and purchase a product of one, while believing to be purchasing a product of the other through the "triple test": the test of appearance and sound; the test of the type of goods and the circle of customers; and the test of other circumstances of the case. Intent to deceive is not required nor is it required to prove the existence of actual deception. There is no prohibition on using search terms in a sponsored ad, because then the consumer knows to notice that he received an ad that is not related to the search he ran, however the site name should not be used in competing store details in a way that might mislead customers into thinking it is the same store. Here, the website included the name of the competing store openly and even in a number of different spelling versions, when done deliberately and to mislead the consumer and the customer base and therefore this is an action prohibited by the Commercial Torts Act.