Watch manufacturer Multi Time Machine Inc. won its appeal against Amazon this morning in a dispute over the way the e-commerce giant displays search results for products it doesn’t sell.
The ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturns a lower court’s earlier decision in Amazon’s favor and sends the case back for trial. The ultimate outcome could have a wide-ranging impact on Amazon product searches, with implications for a large number of products not stocked or sold by the company.
Multi Time Machine, maker of MTM Special Ops watches, doesn’t offer its products for sale through Amazon. The company alleges that Amazon is violated its trademark by showing the name of the product below the search box when someone searches for MTM Special Ops, and then displaying a competing product in the search results.
Here’s what the search experience is like on Amazon currently.
The lower court granted Amazon summary judgment, ruling that the practice did not constitute a trademark violation.
But in its 2-1 ruling this morning, the appeals court reversed that decision, saying that “a jury could find that Amazon has created a likelihood of confusion.”
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Barry Silverman concluded that, “because Amazon’s search result clearly labeled the name and manufacturer of each product offered for sale and even included photographs of the items, no reasonably prudent shopper accustomed to shopping online would likely be confused as to the source of the products.”
Amazon declined to comment on the case, citing a policy against making statements about ongoing litigation.