At RetailMeNot.com, you find coupon codes and deals for 70,000 online stores. You may have heard of it. Many of the names you see at RetailMeNot provide the company's revenue. The owners of those brands pay to list their deals and codes on the site. Some of the deals are not paid for, however. That's the case with Mary Kay Cosmetics.
In March, Mary Kay filed a lawsuit against RetailMeNot, claiming that their use of its intellectual property and display of its coupon codes is not permissible by law. Retailmenot fired back on free speech grounds, stating the following.
"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."
The digital offers company also believes that, if Mary Kay succeeds in winning the case, there could be a negative impact on consumers.
"RetailMeNot believes it is protecting the interests of consumers in a case that could have a negative impact on online content and service providers. Mary Kay's attempt to use trademark law in a manner that is inconsistent with fundamental principles of free speech should alarm consumers because it would deprive them of access to information about digital offers for their favorite retailers and brands."
The basis of RetailMeNot's position is that Mary Kay's coupon codes are publicly available and, because of that, anybody can share them on the web or by other means. From Mary Kay's point of view, RetailMeNot "misleads consumers" to believe that the two companies have a relationship and sell products at a reduced price. The company believes that RetailMeNot's practices are detrimental to its direct sales structure, where sales reps meet directly with potential customers in their homes or in public places.
According to MarketWatch, RetailMeNot attempted to resolve the problem before resorting to litigation but was unable to stop Mary Kay's legal advances.