Thursday 17 October 2019

Ryanair sues Google and travel website 'eDreams' for 'redirecting people searching for flights'

Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary Photo: Bloomberg
Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary Photo: Bloomberg

Tim Healy

Ryanair is suing internet giant Google and "eDreams", a flight and hotel booking website, claiming they are infringing its trademark rights by directing people searching for the airline's 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, Spain, 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 mistaken 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 companies pay Google have their listing in a more prominent position than would be obtained through normal "organic or natural" search results.

This, says Ryanair,  infringes its registered trade marks and/or intellectual property rights.

The claims are denied.

The airline says eDream 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 the "offending material" from AdWords or from the 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 subdomain operated by eDreams.  It also seeks injunctions prevent eDreams from passing off its search and booking website as being connected with Ryanair's website.

The case came before Mr Justice Brian McGovern Monday when Ryanair sought further and better details of eDreams defence of the case.

Joe Jeffers BL, for Ryanair, said eDreams was saying it had already provided sufficient details and was now saying it was Ryanair which had copied its (eDreams) website, which was denied.

Daniel Simms BL, 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 matter for trial.

eDreams' web page pre-existed the Ryanair page which is claimed had been copied, Mr Simms said.

Mr Justice McGovern said it seemed to him eDreams had provided sufficient particulars and he rejected the Ryanair application.

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