Irish software development studio Probendi is suing Apple in a Milan court for using its “iWatch” trademark in Europe as part of a Google AdWords campaign, reports Bloomberg. Apple has been paying for sponsored links on Google in an attempt to redirect users that search for “iWatch” to the Apple Watch website, in order to avoid missing out on customers that search for the wrong product name.
“Apple has systematically used iWatch wording on Google search engine in order to direct customers to its own website, advertising Apple Watch,” says a tribunal filing obtained by Bloomberg. “Apple never replied to our requests and objections, while Google said they are not responsible for links.”
“iWatch” was a commonly used name to refer to Apple’s much-rumored smartwatch before it was released, however the device was ultimately named the Apple Watch. Apple filed for “iWatch” trademarks in Japan, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan, Turkey and other countries, but Probendi has owned the trademark in Europe since 2008 for its health and safety communication software.
Google’s AdWords trademark policy states that it “will investigate and may enforce certain restrictions on the use of that trademark in AdWords text ads,” but the company has yet to take any action against Apple. As of writing, searching for “iWatch” on Google in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and multiple other European countries still displays Apple Watch sponsored text ads.
Probendi originally planned to capitalize on Apple’s announcement of the Apple Watch last year by using its “iWatch” trademark in Europe to launch its own Android smartwatch, but company director Daniele Di Salvo now says the project is “in standby.”
A hearing in the iWatch case is scheduled for November 11.