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Some might consider it a case of a company throwing its (Christmas) toys out of the pram, but HomeAway is going for rental competitor Airbnb over its latest branding.
In a Texas court filing this week, HomeAway claims Airbnb's latest (and first TV) ad campaign, known as BirdBnb, is a "trademark infringement, unfair competition and trademark dilution" under various legal codes.
HomeAway says it has used its own "Birdhouse Mark" since the company's launch in 2005 for "promotional activities that have only increased the strength and recognition" of the brand with consumers and property owners.
Not the greatest start, some might argue, for Airbnb's $2 million promotional campaign, which is slated to show across the US in a number of forms including short films in cinemas as well as travel magazines.
In an email to Tnooz, HomeAway CEO Brian Sharples says the decision to launch the action this week is "very cut and dry".
"We have a fiduciary obligation to our shareholders and employees to defend and protect our intellectual property.
"Hopefully Airbnb will admit they've exercised bad judgement here, and will take swift and necessary actions to end the campaign."
Sharples adds it is "difficult to understand how this campaign would not cause confusion in the marketplace, given HomeAway's historical user of the birdhouse as our corporate logo and mark".
Others are perhaps seeing the opportunity to sharpen their knives in Airbnb's direction, with fellow vacation rental brand Dwellable claiming the issue is a "huge miss" by the legal eagles at the California-based startup. "Brazen appropriation of HomeAway," it said on Twitter this week.
Sharples, however, is playing down any kind of significant rift between his own company and Airbnb, claiming there has always been "a lot of respect for Airbnb and [CEO] Brian Chesky".
"This had nothing to do with our respect for them personally, or a change in the competitive environment. It is simply a legal issue around protecting our valuable brand assets that we've been building on for years."
Airbnb emailed a statement (but did not mention the suit):
"We seek to showcase both craftsmanship and the vast array of unique listings that are available on Airbnb in everything we do -- from the design of our offices to our recent "Hello LA" and "Every Traveler Deserves a Home" campaigns.
"The campaign was designed to convey the creative and individual hospitality that Airbnb and its hosts celebrate every day. "Every Traveler Deserves a Home" expresses our love for the real travelers of the world."
NB:Birdhouse images via DomainNameWire.