Supermarket Standoff Regarding Internet Trademarks

Oct 26, 2011 - LegalZoom News Sources
A New York-based supermarket chain has alleged a rival New Jersey-based chain committed trademark infringement.

Two northeast grocery store chains are engaged in a legal battle, as New York-based Golub Corp., owner of Price Chopper stores, has alleged that rival Wakefern Corp., the New Jersey-based owner of ShopRite stores, engaged in trademark infringement.

Golub contends that Wakefern paid for trademarked keywords to use in internet advertisements, so that when users searched for Price Chopper-related terms on Google, Yahoo and Bing, they found ShopRite ads which contained phrases such as "Price Chopper flyer," the Albany Times Union reported.

The lawsuit was filed about three weeks after a ShopRite store opened in Niskayuna, New York, in a territory dominated by Price Chopper, according to the Business Review. The Niskayuna store was the first new ShopRite to open in the area in about 20 years.

A ShopRite spokesperson, Karen Meleta, told the Times Union that Wakefern only became aware of the ad after a media outlet questioned the company about it. Meleta said Wakefern immediately asked its advertising agency to pull the ads.

The case will be watched closely by legal professionals and marketers, as there have not been many rulings related to internet-based trademark infringement, the Times Union reported.

Internet keyword usage was cited in another recent trademark infringement suit. Luxury brand Chanel sued makers of imitation handbags and other products, saying these counterfeit competitors use keywords to appear high in shoppers' internet search results.