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Estee Lauder, the cosmetic and fragrance giant, reportedly is
Suing Excite Inc. and the Fragrance Counter, alleging trademark
infringement over a key-word purchase.

Estee Lauder contends that Excite sold the advertising rights to its trademarked key words--"Estee Lauder" and "Origins"--to a competitor, without consent.

The lawsuit "is the beginning of what could predictably be a landslide of lawsuits generated by a largely unregulated online advertising industry," said's Bannerstake in a press release about the case. Indeed, the practice of buying a competitor's keywords is not uncommon in the online ad game.

When a user types in "Estee Lauder" or "Origins" on Excite, the search engine serves up a banner advertisement for The Fragrance Counter Inc., the company that purchased these key words. As a
result, The Fragrance Counter, which has no connection to Estee Lauder, allegedly capitalizes on Estee Lauder's brand name to draw consumers to its Web site.

(excerpt taken from
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