1-800-FLOWERS.COM rejoiced Thursday when competitor FlowersUSA entered into a Court Ordered settlement and agreed to a permanent injunction against further infringement of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM’s federally registered trademarks.
1-800-FLOWERS.COM filed a suit against the Centerbrook, Ct.-based florist in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York on June 23, charging that FlowersUSA was infringing on its trademarks, engaging in unfair competition, using deceptive trade practices and violating the recently-enacted Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.
At the center of the dispute were five domain names registered by FlowersUSA that bore an uncanny resemblance to 1-800-FLOWERS.COM’s domain name. For instance, according to 1-800-FLOWERS.COM spokesman Ken Young, FlowersUSA had registered the domain name 1-800-FL0WER.COM. The domain name is almost identical to 1-800-FLOWERS.COM’s domain name except it leaves off the ‘S’ and substitutes a zero for the ‘O’ in flower. Young said the domain name could confuse a 1-800-FLOWERS.COM customer who made a typo while attempting to reach the company’s site.
“It would be confusing to the customer,” Young said. “It would give them the idea that they had reached us when in fact they hadn’t.”
As part of the settlement, FlowersUSA agreed to turn ownership of the five disputed domain names over to 1-800-FLOWERS.COM and also acknowledged that 1-800-FLOWERS.COM’s trademarks are “famous” and have strong brand recognition. The settlement prohibits FlowersUSA from using or seeking to obtain “any confusingly similar” domain names or telephone mnemonics to that of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM. The court retained jurisdiction of the case to ensure compliance with the injunction and other terms of the order.
“We are very pleased that the courts have recognized the strength of the 1-800-FLOWERS.COM brand,” said Jim McCann, the company’s chief executive officer. “This is a victory for the millions of customers we have, all of whom have come to recognize us as their trusted guide to gifting. We continue to do whatever is necessary to protect both our customers and the company.”
This isn’t the first time 1-800-FLOWERS.COM has had to protect its brand. In 1998 the company filed an action against Los Angeles, Calif.-based florist Flower Star for infringing on its trademarks. 1-800-FLOWERS.COM won that case as well. Flower Star had to transfer dozens of domain names to the company and agreed to pay $350,000 in damages and attorney’s fees. It also had to agree to a permanent injunction.