Can You Sue Google Because You Don't Like The Type Of Ads It Puts Up Near Your Listing?

from the seems-like-a-stretch dept

There have been plenty of stories concerning lawsuits against Google from companies that don’t like others buying text ads based on the original company’s name as a keyword. While the court results on these cases is mixed, it seems like Google should easily win. First, and most importantly, the complaint shouldn’t be against Google, but against the companies doing the advertising. Second, it’s not a violation of trademarks. Trademarks are only supposed to protect against consumer confusion, not give the owner complete control over the use of the mark. However, it looks like there’s a slightly different variation on these types of cases over in the Netherlands. There, a dating site for farmers (talk about niches…) is complaining when people search Google for their site, the ads that show up are for “sex” sites. The dating site is worried that such advertisements damage the image of their own site. It’s an interesting legal question — though, again, it may be a difficult for the company to win. If others believe that the dating site is most closely associated with sex, then it’s not exactly Google’s fault. Of course, this also raises another question: if others set up a Google bomb so that other such sites showed up in the organic listings, would the company still be able to complain? Google says they won’t adjust their organic listings, even in the event of a Google bomb — so it’s difficult to see how you could blame Google for the sites your company is associated with. The dating site’s explanation is a bit weak as well, claiming that just because Google can block such advertisements, it means it has an obligation to do so.

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