Mary Kay Sues Yahoo for Trademark Infringement

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Here’s a new twist on the oft repeated whine of many businesses regarding the use of brand names to trigger online ads. Cosmetics company Mary Kay filed a lawsuit against Yahoo! this week in federal court alleging trademark infringement after they discovered Yahoo was inserting links to unauthorized retailers in personal messages that its sellers send to their consumers.

Prior lawsuits dealing with this issue have mainly revolved around ads in search engines or pop-up ads served by adware companies showing up for certain trademarked keywords.  What sets this case apart is that it is the first time that a company has complained about links in personal emails.  Some lawyers now say that this distinction may help Mary Kay prove that consumers are easily confused by the ads.

Yahoo seems to have begun inserting this kind of in-email ads earlier this year.  Mary Kay became aware of the practice this past spring after some of the company’s consultants and employees tipped them off after noticing them in their emails.

In their filing, Mary Kay argues that the email recipients may “mistakenly believe that the hyperlinks and pop-ups which include ads associated with the Mary Kay marks were affirmatively included or authorized by either Mary Kay or the Independent Beauty Consultant sending the email.”

It sounds like a logical arguement, but it might not be enough.  Some point out that although Mary Kay is complaining about unauthorized resellers, people are still typically permitted to sell products without authorization as long as the products have been lawfully purchased.

It is really going to come down to how the court views this, and it will definitely be an interesting case to monitor.

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  • Affiliate Marketer

    Please Julie Kent keep us updated about this case… it is good ‘class’ case.

  • Jason Tweed

    No newspaper in the country would use an ad featuring an unauthorized logo, at least not without a paper trail. You can’t even get business cards printed with the Mary Kay logo unless you can prove authorization. Major online advertising companies are of the future of advertising in America, yet they are completely unregulated.

    EBay was proactive about using logos and trademarks in eBay auctions. Yahoo and Google should be equally accountable, if not more so.

    The Internet needs to be a place where we see advertising we can trust, particularly when distributed by some of the largest corporations in America.

    I hope they choose to self regulate instead of being forced down the road.

  • Tag44

    Thanks Julie for such inside information related to Yahoo, pls let us know the next step of Mary, eager to hear from you soon…!!

  • laura p

    First off I would like to say that Mary Kay RUINED my life. When i say ruined I mean RUINED. I invested 1000’s of dollars at the advise of these commie recruiters and I did “OK”… I was told that they didn’t like that I created an independent site because Mary Kay’s site that I PAID FOR, received 0 traffic! I was terminated with over 10k$ worth of inventory and 3 kids.
    Then when I opened an ebay account to sell what i had to FEED MY FAMILY and pay back the exorbitant credit card bills (FYI Mary Kay COMMIES: the Mtg companies don’t TAKE makeup as payment) and they SUE ME!!!! I swear they terminated ME and then when I was selling what I RIGHTFULLY owned almost a year later, I got served with a lawsuit! Can Mary Kay stay OUT OF COURT for even a FEW months? If they’re not suing someone they’re getting sued. Says a LOT about how big of a fraud Mary Kay is. Mediocre products at ridiculous prices and commie pink nightmares that chase you around until you JOIN the CULT. Go to pinktruth or pinklighthouse and you’ll see how they’re “enriching” I mean RUINING women’s lives. Apparently, after you PAY for products from Mary with YOUR money, Mary Lay can dictate WHERE, WHEN and HOW you can sell products that YOU bought… remember, they GOT their money.
    I cannot WAIT for the day that i see an article saying that Mary kay has gone under! TRUE KARMA for ruining women’s lives continuously!!!