Mary Kay Inc. last week filed a lawsuit against Yahoo Inc. that alleges the Web provider’s e-mail service points users towards unauthorized sellers of its beauty products.

This story first appeared in the July 13, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The trademark suit centers on a new feature of the mail service that automatically scans messages and, based on key words, generates ads linking to online sellers.

In the suit, Mary Kay says it only sells through its network of direct-to-consumer salespeople, and that such sites often offer expired or improperly handled product. Thus, the beauty firm alleges, “Yahoo’s conduct is likely to dilute the distinctiveness of, and to tarnish, the distinctive and famous Mark Kay marks.”

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo did not respond to a request for comment. Mary Kay filed the complaint on July 6 in federal court in Dallas, where the company’s headquarters is based. The beauty firm is seeking an injunction and unspecified damages.

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