In April last year you might recall we published an article entitled “When is autotrader not autotrader?” in which we wrote concerning the unusual web diversion from autotrader.com to allapprovedcars.com and latterly carmony.co.uk and it turned out a number of people had noticed the redirection too and were scratching their heads as a result.
We thought no more about it until at the start of this year we were contacted by a law firm acting on behalf of Trader Publishing in relation to a claim against Auto Trader Inc, Portfolio Europe Ltd and Manheim Auctions Ltd.
We listened with interest as the lawyers informed us that the basis of the claim was the very redirection we wrote about in our article, namely that Auto Trader Inc was diverting UK visitors to the autotrader.com website to allapprovedcars.com.
The technical aspects behind the redirect were quite simple; the techies at Auto Trader Inc had set up a simple web page redirect based on the geolocation of the visitor, which basically meant that anyone with a UK IP address would be re-routed to the UK based allapprovedcars.com.
Anyway to the casual observer there might not appear to be very much wrong with this scenario, given that the company owns all the domain names described, however the legal right to operate using the name “Auto Trader” in the United Kingdom falls to Trader Publishing and that’s where a problem arises.
Visitors in the UK mistakenly punching autotrader.com into the address bar of their browser might, reasonably enough, have been expecting to be taken to autotrader.co.uk as it would be unlikely they were trying to find used US vehicles all things considered, and this was the essential element of the claim.
The fact that these website visitors (thought to number hundreds of thousands) were, as soon as arriving at autotrader.com, quickly diverted to AllApprovedCars and more recently Carmony meant that Auto Trader UK were potentially missing out on a considerable amount of direct traffic and naturally these businesses are in direct competition with Auto Trader in the united kingdom.
As a result a representative of Motor Trade Insider was asked to travel to the offices of the lawyers in London to provide a statement pending the proceedings and we subsequently agreed to be a witness and be called to court should the case get so far as being put before a judge.
Needless to say, as is often the case, it never made it that far. Despite the fact that one of the lawyers told us both sides were prepared to takes things all the way, the parties have recently settled out of court. The details of that settlement are confidential but one thing we do know for sure, there is no longer a web diversion currently in place.
So if you now go and punch autotrader.com into your web browser you should instantly discover that you simply stay put and can now happily source your used Chrysler Sebring from, say Green Gifford Chrysler in Norfolk Virginia or someplace similar.
It was without doubt intriguing from our perspective to be a modest part of an automotive clash of the titans and we’d like to think our article had some bearing on the outcome but, as they used to say on Perry Mason, it’s now certainly case closed!