Auctionata Appeals Trademark Infringement Ruling

Screenshot of Yahoo Deutschland search results taken last September Photo: via Handelsblatt

Berlin-based online auction house Auctionata has appealed a decision by a Berlin regional court, which ruled that it infringed on brick and mortar auction house Dannenberg’s trademark rights, Austria’s Der Standard reports. According to the paper, Auctionata was ordered to pay a fine of up to €250,000 for each instance of alleged trademark infringement.

The suit originated in the fall of last year due to keyword-targeted advertisements Auctionata placed with Yahoo and Bing. The advertisements appeared when users searched for a number of international auction houses including Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

Targeted search engine marketing on its own is relatively common. However, the ads in question also used the houses names in their so-called page title (the words that for the link one clicks on in a search engine to access a given website) and, in some cases, in end of the Auctionata URL to which users were initially directed before landing on the Auctionata homepage or some sub-category page of their offering.

Auctionata declined artnet News’ request for comment, citing the ongoing proceedings.

According to Der Standard, Auctionata removed the advertisements immediately following a warning by the Bundesverband Deutscher Kunstversteigerer (Federal German Association of Auctioneers). However, two auction houses, Dannenberg and Vienna’s im Kinsky have sought further damages.

im Kinsky’s suit is currently held up in pre-court proceedings due to a jurisdiction contention by Auctionata, in which they claim the brand’s Austrian company, ISA Auctionata Auktionen AG, cannot be held responsible for actions of its German branch, ISA Auctionata AG.

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