Ryanair sues Google and eDreams over web search issues

Ryanair is suing Google and eDreams, a flight and hotel booking website, claiming they are infringing its trademark rights by directing people searching for its flights to the eDreams site.

The airline is seeking declarations and orders in the Commercial Court against Google Ireland and its US parent, Google Inc, and against Vacaciones eDreams SL, a Barcelona-based firm which operates the eDreams website.

Ryanair claims when someone searching for its flights enters one or more words on the Google search page, they are directed to the eDreams site and given the impression they are booking through the Irish airline.

It says this arises out of a form of electronic targeted advertising, called the AdWords programme, whereby firms pay Google to have a listing in a more prominent position than would be obtained through “organic or natural” results. This, says Ryanair, infringes its registered trademarks and/or intellectual property rights.

The claims are denied.

The airline says eDreams deliberately uses the Ryanair trademark word, and variations of it, as a keyword through AdWords so as to generate an eDreams advert for display on the page such that it ranks ahead of Ryanair’s own website.

Among the declarations it seeks are that Google has failed to act expeditiously to remove “offending material” from AdWords or from Google search results, or to disable eDreams’ use of the AdWords programme. It also seeks injunctions preventing Google and eDreams from using, or allowing to be used, the Ryanair name in any sub-domain operated by eDreams. It seeks injunctions to prevent eDreams from passing off its search and booking website as being connected to Ryanair.

The case came before Mr Justice Brian McGovern yesterday when Ryanair sought further details of eDreams’ defence. Joe Jeffers, for Ryanair, said eDreams was saying it had already provided sufficient details and was now saying it was Ryanair which had copied its website, which was denied. Daniel Simms, for eDreams, said his client had said in broad terms what it wished to say in a reply to particulars of the case sought by Ryanair. Anything further was a matter for trial.

Mr Justice McGovern said eDreams had provided sufficient particulars and rejected Ryanair’s application.


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