(Reuters) – Warby Parker was hit with a lawsuit by 1-800 Contacts in Manhattan federal court accusing it of infringing its trademarks by buying search-engine keywords for “1-800 Contacts” to misdirect customers to its competing online contact-lens store.

1-800 Contacts also said in the Wednesday complaint that Warby Parker copied the design of its website to further confuse customers who click the infringing ads.

1-800 Contacts‘ attorney Todd Stenerson of Shearman & Sterling said in an email that Warby Parker had “devised a plan to confuse consumers” instead of “developing its own brand awareness related to the online sales of contacts,” and that its conduct was “inherently unfair and unlawful.”

Warby Parker didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The New York-based eyewear company announced in June that it had confidentially filed for an initial public offering.

The complaint said Warby Parker, which is traditionally known for glasses, began selling contacts online in late 2019. At the time, 1-800 Contacts says Warby Parker began buying keyword ads for its trademarks on Google and other search engines, causing customers that search for 1-800 Contacts to see Warby Parker ads at the top of the results.

According to Draper, Utah-based 1-800 Contacts, Warby Parker “magnifies” consumer confusion by linking the ads to a web page that is similar to 1-800 Contacts‘ homepage. The complaint says the ads lead to a site that mimics the “recognizable and distinctive look and feel” of 1-800 Contacts‘ website, unlike Warby Parker’s normal website.

The complaint said Warby Parker’s ads only lead to the confusing site if users search for 1-800 Contacts, and ads from searches for “Warby Parker contacts” lead to its traditional site.

Warby Parker’s plan intentionally deceives and confuses consumers, who have a reasonable and legitimate expectation that their searches for the well-known 1 800 CONTACTS marks will lead them to 1-800 Contacts‘ website, products, and services, not to a page created by a competitor,” the complaint said.

The case is 1-800 Contacts Inc v. Warby Parker, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:21-cv-06966.

For 1-800 Contacts: Todd Stenerson of Shearman & Sterling, Steven Joffee of Michael Best & Friedrich.

Published first at Reuters

By Blake Brittain

Related posts

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *