Ryanair against Google for misleading connection with eDreams
In order to end legal proceedings before Irish High Court for trademark infringement, Ryanair on October 2017 reached a settlement with search engine Google and online travel agency eDreams. The case started in 2015 over alleged misleading and deceptive search advertisements for Ryanair flights.
Google allegedly allowed eDreams to use the subdomain www.ryanair.eDreams.com and a website similar to the Ryanair’s one, to sell plane tickets at higher prices than on the Irish airline’s own website. The terms of the settlement will remain confidential among parties.
Ryanair’s trademark in Google adwords campaign
Ryanair is for sure one of the most well-known low fares airlines company, connecting European States. In late 2015 it sued Google, the world wide search engine, and eDreams, an online travel website.
It complained that their policy was misleading customers and attracting business by using Ryanair’s trademark in adwords campaign.
According to Ryanair, eDreams was using Ryanairs flight codes, marks and similar material to make customers convinced they were booking Ryanairs flights. But eDreams would charge fares higher than Ryanair would have done.
By eDreams site flights can be compared and bought from several airlines
As a flight wholesaler on travel agent, the Spanish company eDreams allows booking flights from several airlines on its website pages. For every company, named Easyjet, Emirates or Ryanair, it shows the logo of the airline and a link to the airline booking entry web page.
You can also enter a date with origin and destination within the search bar and book right from their website displaying all information about the chosen flight of the relevant airline, such as availability or seats disposition.
When the whole booking process turns out to the final price, customers are lead to believe that it corresponds to the same price Ryanair - or Emirates just to mention - would have applied if they have processed the booking entering the airline company’s own website.
But, should the customer cross the threshold of a price comparison, he would figure that eDreams final price is way different than Ryanair’s one, according to the Irish low cost airlines complaints.
Google third-party results related to Ryanair from eDreams
Furthermore, the resulting altered price as displayed on eDreams was prompted by Google too. It occurred not only thanks to search adverts related to eDreams and its subsidiary Opodo, but also by results shown by its own service, Google Flight, whose results are promoted above Ryanair’s site.
Ryanair started to receive complaints by consumers. Thousands of them have been received via email by Ryanair, which steadily forwarded them toward the inbox of Google.
Ryanair argues that Google’s AdWords program gives links to eDreams and Opodo websites a more prominent position than Ryanair’s ones on its search results, diverting consumers on advertisers’ sites to generate revenue both for eDreams and Google itself.
Ryanair complaints are over extra fees charged by eDreams
The Irish company points out that eDreams charges costumers with hidden additional fees on the actual price and misleads costumers by making them believe that eDreams site is correspondent to the Ryanair’s one. Furthermore, according to the Irish ariline, eDreams processes the booking of flights in a suspicious way, omitting contact details and experiencing failure on checking in luggage and second passenger.
What is most at stake for Ryanair, is that subdomain, branding and design of eDreams are made up to draw consumers into thinking that they are booking directly to Ryanair’s website.
Legal action has been carried on by Ryanair
After Ryanair notified to Google dispprovation of the use of its own trademark in AdWords campaign, and Google did not remove it, Ryanair contested the use of the trademark bringing Google into legal action both before High Court in Ireland and Competition and Consumer Protection Commission in Dublin.
On the first hearing the Commercial Court rejects an application of Google Inc. to strike out an amended part of Ryanair initial claim. Eventually, after two years, Ryanair reaches a confidential settlement over the legal issue with eDreams and Google.
Ryanairs claims trademark infringement and breach of competitive law for abuse of dominant position
Ryanairs seeks for Google advert policy to be more transparent and prevent consumer being misled on its search engine. The trademark infringement claim considers Google’s agreement with eDreams anti-competitive as an abuse of dominant position in the internet search and advertising markets that leads to a breach of competition law. It allegedly abuses its dominant position by operating AdWords service in a way resulting unfair and misleading to consumers. It adds that no commercial agreement is ever occurred between the Irish airline carrier and the travel website operator
Google and eDreams denying
Google argues that the subject matter can not be considered as a breach of competition law since Ryanair’s trademark is owned exclusively by the airline company.
eDreams denies the allegations stating that its service is to offer the best deals and most convenient combination of flights displaying all available flight options from a wide range of airlines.
Ryanair, Google and eDreams put an end to the long litigation
The Irisih airline Ryanair, known for its low-cost fares, has settled the legal issue with Google.
Even if the settlement terms remain confidential, it should be reasonable to think that advertising transparency within Google policy will be enforced at least for what concerns Ryanairs flight offers.
As explained by Alessandro Buccilli (the chief of a Law Firm in Rome - Italy | StudioBuccilli): in a statemen released days after the settlement, the spokesperson of Ryanair made it clear that the agreement contains measures which will ensure transparency of online advertising of flights to the benefit of Ryanair’s costumers who can continue to be offered whit low fares in Europe.
Terms of settlement shall remain confidential
Among measures it is reasonable to find commitments to a much more consumer-friendly advertising on Google AdWords platform according to Ryanair’s original requests.
On Google’s turn, a spokesperson of the search engine admits to have reached an agreement with the other two parties, that mantains and enforces the customer-friendly policy they have always had on the type of ads allowed to be shown on AdWords platform.
eDreams is declared to be satisfied with the commitments because they help traverlers to get the best prices and options through their website.
As Ryanair was calling for over two years, searching for “ryanair” on Google search bar returns an ad from a website which can be easily confused with the official Ryanair’s one. Hitting the link leads the costumer to another site, eDreams in this case, where booking the same flight can cost a much higher rate.
It was sufficient for Ryanair to ask for stop showing what it called misleading ads that send searchers to third-party booking sites or screen-scrapers site.
Now a different denomination is shown among Google search results for Ryanairs flight sponsored by eDreams
A first change in the display of eDreams advertising on Google search result page is given by a different denomination: instead of the former Ryanair: cheap flights it says Ryanair Flight on eDreams, clearly showing that the costumer is going to be redirected to a third-party website and not to the Ryanair’s own site.
Ryanair and Google has reached the resolution over this case without affection for all other ongoing legal proceedings between the two parties.
A registered trademark carries exclusivity rights
The legal issue involved among Ryanair, Google and eDreams is related to rights carried by a registered trademark. They are exclusivity rights that limit its usage in trade and are protected by trademark infringement laws. For what concerns the case at issue, Ryanair has engaged a legal proceedings for trademark infringement assuming that no commercial agreement nor a consent occurred with the Spanish online travel agency for Ryanair to be mentioned or its information for flight to be controlled.
After previous practices disappointing consumers, now Ryanair reputation is renewed and improved
Ryanair has long worked to reconnect with its costumers and improve its reputation. Previous practices of the Irish carrier were addressed by consumers that were made to opt out of buying travel insurance or charged for payment with credit cards.
Even the low-cost airline EasyJet has moved complaints against eDreams for wrong or incomplete contact details of passengers whose booking was performed by third-party websites.
A German Court states eDreams must halt from using a misleading Ryanair lookalike domain
A commercial relationship between Ryanair and travel metasearch site Momondo has endend in November 2016 because the search provider was allegedly mis-selling a Christmas travel package with altered prices. Back in 2015, Ryanair won a legal proceedings for trademark infringement before German Court. It ended with a ruling for refraining eDreams from using ryanair.eDreams.de subdomain as well as on Google’s sponsored results.