Once Again, Google Sued Over Use Of Trademarks In Ads

from the geico-2.0 dept

Reader Mark alerts us that once again, Google is getting sued because it allow companies to buy ads that use another company’s trademark. In the US, it’s pretty much settled law that there’s nothing wrong with this. Geico tried suing the company over this, but it had its case slapped down by the courts. This time, it’s the Australian government upset that a popular Australian classifieds site is using the name of certain car dealerships in its ads. Of course, the Geico case doesn’t set any precedent for Google in Australia, so it’s possible that the law won’t be as favorable to the company down under. The government is also making the somewhat bizarre claim that Google doesn’t do a good job distinguishing its paid results from its organic listings. It’s pretty hard to see how anyone but a moron in a hurry would have a hard time seeing the difference, so it would certainly seem that Australia has an uphill battle going forward on this one.

Companies: geico, google

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Comments on “Once Again, Google Sued Over Use Of Trademarks In Ads”

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Anonymous Sloth says:

Re: Re:

It’s also a matter of delivering what they say they do. Google is the most popular search engine on the web because they have this advanced algorithm blah blah blah… inserting sponsored link into the ads would compromise the algorithm’s results and thus the service they deliver.

Personally, I think they do a pretty good job, but I wish they’d confine sponsored links to the sidebar instead of placing them above search results as well. Not because they’re difficult to distinguish, but because screen real estate is valuable: with the current layout I can only see the top three or four results before I have to scroll down.

Shalkar says:

My Opinion is:

You would think since it’s based in America that the only way another country could sue a website, like Google, is if they had offices there. I mean, the only thing I can think of is because it offers a “service” to people in that country. Thus, because they’re doing business there that means they have to go by their laws also.

As for this lawsuit, it’s garbage. I mean, how is Google responsible for what another company and/or website does? Furthermore, wouldn’t that mean FREE ads for that car dealership? Seriously now…

Tony says:

Firstly Australia has vastly different laws to America. Also Google is an Australian company
ACN 002 780 289
ABN 42 002 780 289

So the ACCC is charging the Australian arm of the corporation. Secondly they are being charged under Section 52 of the trades practices act which states “A corporation shall not, in trade or commerce, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or is likely to mislead or deceive.” which basically means the corporation cannot allow any other person/company to use them as a vehicle for deception/misleading practices. Google allowed the publisher to publish the adverts.

People are saying its a nothing charge and in America it probably isn’t but the ACCC isn’t a toothless tiger and normally they win there cases.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Right on!

Google is making money by allowing abuse of trademarks. They know its a problem. If you try to use some well known trademarks in AdWords, its rejected. After doing this, it seems wrong that they can claim that their business isnt for the purpose of using competitive trademarks – this is practically an admission.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Right on!

The issue with trademarks is that they’re only protected in their respective markets. For example, Office is trademarked by Microsoft in the appropriate markets. However, that doesn’t stop the franchise bar called “The Office” from having that name.

So you can’t block all trademarked words. “Office” is trademarked. You want to block that from AdWords? I’m sure office supply warehouses would have issue with that.

Remember, trademarks are different then patents and what not. Just cause something is trademarked doesn’t mean someone else can freely use it.

TechNoFear (profile) says:

ACCC is going after TradingPost mainly

The ACCC is after the ‘Trading Post’ for using registered trademarks in the key word search adverts.

Google allowed the ‘Trading Post’ to buy key-word adverts using ‘Kloster Ford’. ‘Ford’ is generic and acceptable, the trademarked ‘Kloster Ford’ is not acceptable.

An example is; searching Google for ‘pepsi cola’ and the top link saying ‘pepsi cola.com’ but when you click the link you end up at ‘coke.com’.

This is similar to the 2002 recommendations by the FTC.

Vincent (profile) says:

it's a question of deception

It seems like a straight forward deception – you ask for a business name and Google returns two competitors to that business with text that makes you think those are the right links. Labeling these links as “Sponsored Links” doesn’t repair the damage of the link text and description being deceptive. This is a very large Australian company with a huge advertising budget picking off traffic from much smaller competitors. The same trick was pulled by another large company as outlined in the Australian Newsagency blog. Google should lose this case.

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