Should Google Have Anything To Do With Ad Trademark Questions

from the nope dept

Google keeps running into lawsuits concerning companies who buy advertisements based on the names or trademarks of their competitors. We’ve already explained why should be perfectly legal under trademark law (which doesn’t prevent all use of a trademarked term – just any use that is seen to be confusing people into believing one company is another company). However, this NewMediaZero piece points out that, even if it is a trademark violation, it makes no sense to go after Google, who is simply the publisher. If they must go after someone, the complaining companies should go after those who they are accusing of misusing their trademarks: the competitors buying the ads. Of course, what this article leaves out is that the complaining companies are upset that Google appears to be profiting off of their trademark by selling the ads. I wonder what would happen if Google set up a “compromise” position where a portion of the money that an advertiser paid for advertising on a trademarked keyword went to the trademark owner?

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Comments on “Should Google Have Anything To Do With Ad Trademark Questions”

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Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:


If Google were to set aside some of the money to be paid to the copyright holder, they would in essence be admitting that they are participating in copyright violation.

There are two possible avenues to take:

1) Admit that selling ad-words based on copyrighted terms is wrong and stop doing it, at which point Google loses advertising revenue, or

2) Take the standard corporate approach, deny any wrong-doing, claim that even if there is any wrong-doing it’s “not their fault”, and proceed to generate ad revenue.

If you were in management of a money making organization, which route would you choose?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Uh-uh.

It’s NOT a copyright issue, but a trademark one. Those are two very different things.

Besides, there’s a third route, which appears to be what they’re doing, and which I believe is the proper route: point out that selling keywords based on trademarked terms is not a violation of trademark.

As I’ve said before, it’s the exact same thing as having your products placed next to each other on store shelves… Or, as someone else pointed out (with an even better example) having the cashier at a grocery store hand you a coupon for a competing product after you buy one product.

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