The legal system has again locked horns with the Internet. A Florida judge has ordered Uber (newest American icon and fast-growing ride-sharing service, but not widely respected and loved) to tweak search engine results so that when someone in Gainesville, Florida, searches for “Uber Gainesville” or something similar, a local company called “Uber Promotions” isn’t squeezed out by the Uber we all know and either love or detest.
It appears that Uber Promotions owns a regional trademark that pre-dates and, therefore, trumps (no relation to Donald Trump) the more famous (or, possibly, infamous) trademark of the other newer, larger and uber Uber. Uber Promotions offers advertising, event-planning, and transportation services. Interesting diversification of services, no? The company was able to show the court that consumers would be confused by the uber Uber, so the court granted a preliminary injunction.
Here is an excerpt from the injunction: “Defendant [Uber] must ensure that a search conducted with the Google, Yahoo, or Bing search engines using the keywords ‘Uber promotions Gainesville phone’ or ‘Uber promotions Gainesville phone number’ does not return a result with Defendant’s 352-area-code number.”
Since the search engines name in the injunction are independent, multi-billion dollar companies – and are neither plaintiffs nor defendants in the lawsuit – it is difficult to grasp how the uber Uber could possibly comply with this court order!