A Dog Day For New Lycos Campaign

Lycos Inc. which just launched a nationwide ad campaign featuring a Labrador retriever as a logo, was sued for trademark infringement by Labrador Software Inc.

You guessed, it, the software company wants the Internet search directory to halt its advertising campaign that features “Lycos,” the expert-fetching retriever.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Boston by closely held Labrador, which makes “E-Retriever” software that lets users find a Web site by typing a simple word into an Internet browser, such as “lunch,” rather than the entire address, such as www.lunch.com.

Labrador alleges that Lycos was aware of the company and its use of the Labrador name and logo before Lycos introduced its television, print and radio ad campaign. Lycos officials weren’t immediately available to comment.

Danvers, MA-based Labrador is asking a judge to stop Lycos from using the dog as its logo and to award unspecified damages for trademark violations, unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.

The ads tell users to “Go Get It” using Lycos, “the fastest and easiest way” to find what they are looking for on the Web. The campaign, which integrates national cable television, drive-time spot radio, direct mail and outdoor, print and online advertising, was created in conjunction with Bozell Worldwide/New York.

“We believe they knew of us long before they started using our mark,” Victor Polk, a Boston lawyer at Bingham Dana LLP, which is representing Labrador.

Lycos “knew of the substantial recognition and goodwill associated with (Labrador’s trade names),” Labrador’s lawyers said in the suit. Lycos officials “chose to use the `Labrador Retriever’ in order to trade off the (associated) goodwill.”

After the Lycos campaign began running on radio and television, Labrador claims it received calls from customers such as Lucent Technologies Inc. and prospective clients such as Compaq Computer Corp. that were confused by Lycos’ use of the dog logo.

“Users are confused if are we Lycos and what’s what,” Labrador Chief Executive John Furrier told Bloomberg. “They are making (the Labrador dog) the centerpiece of their ad campaign, and that’s troubling for us.”

Labrador alleges that Lycos was aware of Labrador through articles that ran in trade publications, marketing its product at trade shows and through television exposure. It alleges that Lycos employees in September logged onto Labrador’s Web site.

There was no immediate response from Lycos.

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