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Advertising.com, Ad.com, and Advertise.com. Because AOL (NYSE: TWX) says it has extensively used and promoted the first two trademarks, it is claiming control over the third, and therefore suing search and display platform Advertise.com for trademark infringement. In a lawsuit, AOL claims that Advertise.com is “virtually identical and confusingly similar” to Advertising.com and Ad.com in name and also in logo and therefore “through its conduct, Advertise.com has created circumstances whereby members of the public and members of the relevant trade are likely to be led to incorrectly believe that Advertise.com and its services are authorized by, sponsored by, or affiliated with Plaintiffs” (Via Domain News Wire).
It’s an odd argument not only because it seems to rest so much on word construction, but also because it’s hard to imagine that many customers are confusing Advertise.com with AOL. As AOL says in its complaint, the Advertise.com domain brought in only 23,249 unique users in May. AOL’s legal defense seems murky for other reasons too. As Domain News Wire points out, for instance, AOL doesn’t actually own the Ad.com domain and has only applied to trademark the brand.
But with its recent re-branding of Platform-A as AOL Advertising, AOL has said it is trying to convey a simpler message to clients and so perhaps there’s a chance that Advertise.com could get in the way of that. While AOL is using AOL Advertising as its overarching brand, it is emphasizing Advertising.com as the name of its display network and also a self-service ad program it plans to bring to market.