Trademark Infringement The Overstock Way?

from the seems-a-bit-wrong dept

There have been a number of lawsuits against Google from companies who have been upset that competitors were buying ads on Google using their brand names. Many of these lawsuits are based on a misunderstanding of trademark law. Some companies seem to believe that if you have a trademark, no one can ever use your brand name for any purpose without permission. That’s not true. The purpose of trademark law is simply to protect confusion from companies trying to trick consumers into thinking their doing business with someone else. While many of these lawsuits, therefore, are bogus, it is absolutely possible to violate trademarks using Google’s AdWords program. TheStalwart has a perfect (and bizarre) example. It appears that struggling online retailer has taken to putting up Google AdWords telling people to “Shop with Amaz-on” which seems like a pretty clear trademark infringement. Of course, as we’ve pointed out in the past as well, there’s still no reason why Google should be party to any such suit. If Amazon does decide to fight this, they should clearly go after Overstock, as that’s who’s infringing on the trademark. Either way, if Overstock really did put up this ad, it makes you wonder what they’re thinking that they would need stoop to the level of tricking customers into visiting their site.

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