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Translators awarded £142,000 in copyright and SEO dispute

Posted: 21st November 2018   In: Corporate Commercial

A firm specialising in translation services has been awarded £142,000 damages after a rival company infringed its copyright by using similar website names to improve its search engine optimisation (SEO).

The case involved Link Up Mitaka Ltd, which traded as the ‘TheBigWord,’ providing translation and interpretation services in the UK and across Europe.

A rival firm, the Language Empire, provided similar services in the UK.

Link Up alleged trademark infringement and passing off arising from Empire’s use of websites containing "bigwordtranslation" in their domain names as part of a deliberate search optimisation scheme set up to hijack Link Up’s potential customers.

Empire said it had no control over the websites or domain names, which were controlled by a separate company specialising in SEO.

The court was given written evidence setting out the number of enquiries for interpretation and translation services that had been made via the disputed websites. Empire claimed that none of those enquiries had been passed on to it.

The court found in favour of Link Up. It noted that there had been a 50% increase in traffic to its website after Empire’s websites were taken down. It followed that those websites had diverted significant numbers of potential customers away from Link Up.

The lost profit from those lost sales was assessed at £106,533. However, that assessment significantly undervalued the lost sales arising from Empire’s wrongdoing when the sales lost to Link Up from future repeat business from new customers was taken into account.

That significant undervalue could not properly be compensated by an uplift of less than 33%. The correct approach was therefore to uplift the damages award by 33%, bringing the total award of damages to £142,044.

Please contact Sarah Liddiard if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of intellectual property and copyright infringement.

Posted by: Sarah Liddiard
Corporate Commercial
Luton Office