Lawsuit Over Search Ads On Trademarked Words Continues

from the misunderstanding-trademark-law dept

Unfortunately, a federal judge has decided not to throw out lawsuits against Google and Overture for accepting advertising based on keywords that are trademarked. There have been a number of such lawsuits, and it seems like a lot of people are misunderstanding the point of a trademark. The trademark is to guarantee that people aren't confused into believing that the product they're buying was made or sold by a company who had nothing to do with it. However, companies are now trying to take trademark law and make it so it means that no one can mention their trademark at all. In the case of companies or people buying keyword advertising based on trademarked words, that's not a violation of trademarks at all, assuming the ads are clearly not from the company that owns the trademark. As I've said before, this is the same thing as product placement on a store shelf. If you are the maker of Bob's Cola, you want to make sure you're on the same shelf as Coca-Cola. That's not trademark infringement, that's good marketing. If you market yourself as Bob's Coca-Cola or use a similar logo to Coca-Cola, such that it confuses a potential buyer, that's trademark infringement. Still, this particular case has some interesting twists, as the guy who filed the lawsuit doesn't own the trademark any more. You may recall the story from a few years ago about an internet flamewar that got out of hand, which resulted in a series of lawsuits, and the eventual loss of the domain name in question.
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