A Tale of Two URLs: AOL Sues for Infringement

TechCrunch and a number of other sources are reporting that AOL is suing Web site Advertise.com for infringing on its trademark for Baltimore’s Advertising.com. Apparently, AOL is making an argument that Advertise.com could unfairly take business from Advertising.com because of the sites’ similar URLs and logos. While both companies sell online advertising, AOL insists that Advertising.com has been generating millions of dollars for some time, and that the recently re-branded competitor is now unfairly benefiting from the similarities - which could result in significant confusion. Strangely enough, TechCrunch is also reporting that Advertise.com sued first.

Looking at the two logos, the first reaction would be to say that they are somewhat similar, but this is mostly a result of the words themselves, rather than the design. That said, the inclusion of any type of "swish" treatment in the letter "A" should probably have not been used by Advertise.com, since it could be said to be "similar." Confusing? You be the judge.

Suffice to say that this particular issue could have been avoided, if the Advertise.com designers had done a little more research; with all the graphic options out there, there really is no excuse for being similar at all. As for the URL itself, TechCrunch makes a logical case that this shouldn't be an issue; AOL stands little chance of exercising trademark rights over something as generic as a domain name. MS

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