Online discount provider RetailMeNot has been served with a federal lawsuit over the unauthorised use of branding.
Mary Kay Inc., a cosmetics firm which claims not to use discounts, filed to sue RetailMeNot after seeing “sales” and “codes” for its items listed on the site. In many cases these offers cannot be obtained and serve only as traffic drivers to RetailMeNot’s discount hub, according to Mary Kay.
A complaint from the firm, made at the US District Court in Dallas, says: “[The coupon listings] lead consumers into falsely believing there is an approval, affiliation or partnership between Mary Kay and RMN.”
RetailMeNot has protested its innocence over the matter and says it intends to fight the suit.
The explosion of online discounts and rising profile of publishers like RetailMeNot means it is common practice for a shopper to navigate away from their basket in search of money-off rewards at the retailer in question.
RetailMeNot managed over 450 million hits to its websites last year, but while the bulk of discounts on the site are redeemable, some will fail to serve their purpose.
In the case of Mary Kay, a click on a ‘Gifts Under $25’ link at retailmenot.com will inform the user that no coupon is required, while another offering to ‘Find a Beauty Consultant’ displays the same message, offering a re-direct to marykay.com.
The cosmetics firm has made an appeal to prevent RetailMeNot from using any of its branding - including slogans, websites and the company name - on the site.
Dallas Business Journal says Mary Kay is also looking for RetailMeNot to stump up an “undisclosed sum” for any court fees and damages that arise from the case.
Site intends to appeal
Predictably, RetailMeNot told the same publication it plans on fighting the suit and clearing its name.
A statement from a spokesperson at RetailMeNot, handed to PerformanceIN, also maintains the company’s intention to operate in line with the interests of its partners.
It adds: “RetailMeNot, Inc. takes concerns related to third party intellectual property very seriously. RetailMeNot, Inc. continues to believe that it operates in compliance with law and in the best interests of consumers and its retail partners by aggregating information to help shoppers save money using its websites and mobile apps.
“RetailMeNot, Inc. believes the allegations in this lawsuit are without merit and intends to vigorously contest this matter.”
RetailMeNot enjoyed a busy year in 2014, completing a purchase of vouchercodes.com and reporting Q4 revenue of $87.4 million, up 11.4% on the same period from 2013.