Trademarks And Search Ads Return To Court Over Playboy Issue

from the going-a-bit-too-far dept

We’ve discussed this before, related to how Google decides whether or not to block keywords people are using, but a court has now overturned an earlier summary judgment on the topic of buying ads on trademarked search terms – and a very interesting trial should follow. The case involved Playboy suing Netscape for selling advertisements on keyword search terms that Playboy owned a trademark for. The court had originally said this was fine, but now the case will return to court. Hopefully the court will once again rule that there’s nothing wrong with this. The point of trademark is to avoid confusing people into thinking a good or service is offered by a different company. In other words, you can’t sell Bob’s Soda and label it Coca-Cola. However, you certainly can do your best to make sure that Bob’s Soda gets placed on the shelves near Coca-Cola, so that anyone looking for Coca-Cola will also see Bob’s Soda. That’s marketing – it’s not trademark infringement, and hopefully the courts will agree.

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