Super Bowl Advertiser Expensify Sues Competitor For Trading Off Of Its Good Will

I thought that one of the better Super Bowl XLIII advertisements was delivered by Expensify, because it simply demonstrated the value of its service in an effective manner. It appears that a competitor is trying to benefit from Expensify’s Super Bowl exposure, which has led to the filing of a lawsuit by Expensify for trademark infringement, unfair competition and unjust enrichment.

The federal complaint was filed by Expensify against Webexpenses, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. Expensify takes issue with Webexpenses allegedly engaging in an Internet advertisement campaign that is triggered when consumers perform Google searches on Expensify’s trademarks “Expensify” (federally registered as a trademark since 2009) and “Expensify This.” Furthermore, Expensify says that Webexpenses is publishing its own advertisements with those marks.

Webexpenses is newer than Expensify in the world of web-based expense reporting. Expensify believes that Webexpenses is trading off of the goodwill that Expensify has created and the valuable SEO it has garnered through paid advertising.

For instance, as indicated by a screenshot included in Expensify’s Complaint, if an individual would enter a search for “expensify this” in Google, that person would see an advertisement near the top of the returned page for Webexpenses.

“Webexpenses is using Expensify’s trademarks to spark the consumer’s interest in Webexpenses’ ads by confusingly using and trading off of Expensify’s marks,” states the Complaint. It goes on to state that “Webexpenses is leading its ads with Expensify’s marks in situations where consumers are searching on those very marks to find Expensify’s services. This is a deliberate and calculated attempt to confuse consumers.”