Credits: Wikimedia Commons

The dispute between travel booking rivals MakeMyTrip (MMT) and HappyEasyGo (HEG) came to a standstill after the Delhi High Court directed search engine giant Google to suspend the advertising account of HappyEasyGo.com on its Ad Words program, one of the leading sources of revenue that helps companies bid on keywords and have them appear at the top of search results.

Neither MMT, Google India, nor HEG commented on the issue.

A single-judge bench of Justice Jayant Nath gave the interim ruling after MMT had filed two insulting petitions against its rival HEG in court over the past two months after it was alleged that HEG was using MMT-related keywords to appear on top of the search results. The proceedings were first filed in May 2018, ruling in MMT’s favor.

The order had read, “Till further orders, the defendant no. 1, its partner, directors, shareholders, assigns in business, affiliates, subsidiaries, agents, broadcasters, representatives, advertisers, franchisees, licensees and/or all other persons acting on its behalf are restrained from bidding for, adopting and using Plaintiff’s MakeMyTrip word Mark, or any deceptive variant thereof, whether with the inclusion of spaces or, other special characters in the trademark MakeMyTrip, as an Ad Word through the Ad Word Program of Google or any other ad word/keyword program in any manner whatsoever.”

The recent contempt notices had been filed after it was discovered that HEG was still using MMT-related keywords to improve visibility in search results.

Industry sources revealed that MMT, in situations like this, will be spending more on the program to bid on its own trademark so that it appears at the top of search results. Competitive branding on one’s own brand’s wordmark will increase the cost-per-click on the Google platform by up to 3-4 times.

A court order issued last week called for the issuance of bailable warrants for two Indian executives of HEG.

The Ad Words program has come under considerable scrutiny in recent times as more and more companies have expressed their concerns about it. It was reported that the issue has been brought to the government sector, like the DPIIT, but no response has been made official as of late.