For years, we've been saying that most of these lawsuits against Google for selling text ads based on trademarked terms have been completely misguided, in two ways. First, Google is just an open service provider, and therefore any liability should fall on the advertiser -- and not Google. However, much more important, is that most of these ads don't infringe on trademark at all. Trademark doesn't give the holder a monopoly right on their name. The purpose is simply to prevent confusion. So, as long as the ad doesn't confuse the user into believing it was put there by someone else, it should be legal. It appears some law students are now backing this up with some more legal background. The Executive Editor for the Duke Law and Technology Review has submitted a link to an article that pretty much backs up what we've been saying here, pointing out that Google should be mostly free of legal liability -- with one clear and easy to understand exception. If the ad is confusing in a way that violates trademark law and Google is informed about it and doesn't take it down, then they may face some liability.
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