French Court Fines Google Over Trademarks

from the the-French-sure-don't-like-these-American-search-companies dept

What is it about French courts and American search companies? It wasn't that long ago that they were declaring Yahoo's CEO a war criminal because he wouldn't stop the American Yahoo site from selling old Nazi paraphernalia. Now, they've struck out at Google for the practice of letting people buy text ad keywords for trademarked terms. Google says they're going to appeal. What I find amusing about this is that Google, in the past, has shown that they have no problem banning trademarked keywords. In fact, with some of our own experiments in buying ads on Google, Techdirt had one of our ads rejected because a trademark holder complained. I still don't see how this is, in any way, a violation of trademark law. Just because you buy the keyword, it doesn't mean that anyone is going to confuse you with the trademark holder. If, indeed, you pretend to be the trademark holder (the whole reason trademark law exists), it's a different story. But, if you just want a competitive ad to show up, that shouldn't be a violation of trademark.

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  • identicon
    LittleW0lf, 16 Oct 2003 @ 3:56pm

    They're doing this on purpose....

    [Sarcasm Alert!!!]

    The French have to be doing this on purpose. First, they violate treaties testing nuclear bombs in the South Pacific. Then they get the US all angry with them (at least enough to change "French Fries" to "Freedom Fries",) and then start picking on Google. I think they're trying to be so much like North Korea so that Bush will add them to the axis of evil (because they want to fit in some how and they feel that the rest of the world isn't giving them the respect they deserve.)

    Oh, well, someday I'll have to tell my kids that my high school required me to take a dead language called "French". Right up there with "Latin" if you ask me. I wish they had allowed me to take Japanese, I'd get far more use out of it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael Vilain, 16 Oct 2003 @ 6:25pm

    Sure you can buy a Google Trademark/Servicemark ke

    only if you have the license to use it. The organization I belong to has servicemarks which only it's members can use, for which we pay for the privilege. Others who have not completed the course work nor graduated from the organization's training courses are not allowed to use the service mark in any media. The organization defends the use of the servicemark to prevent it from becoming generic.

    If Google is not allowing Trademark or Servicemark keywords to be purchased by non-owners, what's the problem or issue here? If they are going to allow anyone to purchase ads for "Xerox" or "Kleenex" or "Pampers", they're in for quite a fight.

    Have I misunderstood this article's intent?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 16 Oct 2003 @ 6:50pm

      Re: Sure you can buy a Google Trademark/Servicemar

      If I make a generic brand of tissues, what's wrong with me buying the keyword "Kleenex", assuming that the word "Kleenex" appears nowhere in the ad itself, and I never imply that I'm in any way associated with Kleenex. Instead, I have an ad that points out that I sell other tissues.

      What's wrong with that?

      If I posted an ad that implied I was Kleenex, or selling Kleenex, then you have a point. However, if I'm just pointing out alternatives, there's no confusion.

      The point of trademark is to prevent confusion. It's to prevent me from telling you I'm selling Kleenex and then selling you Puffs instead. But, I'm not doing that in this case. I'm seeing that you're looking for Kleenex, and telling you "hey, you might want to look at Puffs also!"

      There's no confusion. It's just marketing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        thecaptain, 17 Oct 2003 @ 6:52am

        Re: Sure you can buy a Google Trademark/Servicemar

        Wouldn't that be something like buying the domain www.kleenex.com and then putting up a web page extolling "Puffs"?

        I mean to me it seems like that.

        I'm pretty sure that someone who call the lawyers at that point.

        On the other hand there's nothing wrong if you buy the keywords "Facial tissues" and then advertise said Puffs.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2003 @ 7:38am

        Re: Sure you can buy a Google Trademark/Servicemar

        If you buy the keyword "kleenex" you do so hoping to benefit from people searching for "Kleenex", a trademarked name.
        In doing so you attempt to use the brand image, awareness and goodwill that the trademark owner has created (possibly at great expense) to your own advantage without compensating the trademark owner and potentially diluting the value of their trademark.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Michael Vilain, 17 Oct 2003 @ 11:51pm

        Re: Sure you can buy a Google Trademark/Servicemar

        You can't _use_ a Trademark or Servicemark unless you have a license to do so or own it. By using "Kleenex" as a keyword, you're using someone else's trademarked name and gaining benefits from it, thereby violating their copyrights.

        If you took out keyword ads for "tissue", you wouldn't be violating any copyrights. Couldn't say the same for "windows", thought...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mike (profile), 19 Oct 2003 @ 2:29pm

          Re: Sure you can buy a Google Trademark/Servicemar

          No. Again, the point of trademark (not copyright) is to avoid confusing someone into doing business with a company who is not who they pretend to be. That's not happening in this case.

          Your argument makes sense for copyright, but not for trademark.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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