Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
keyword ads, trademarks


Yet Another Keyword Advertising Suit... And Yet Another Ruling That Keyword Ads Don't Violate Trademarks

from the please-make-it-stop dept

We're beginning to get quite sick of companies claiming that having a trademark give them total control over a trademarked phrase. That's simply not true and never has been true. Yet it shows up all the time in the ever popular lawsuits over keyword advertisements. Over and over again the courts have shown that it's perfectly fine to use a competitor's trademarked phrase or name as a keyword to put up a competitive ad. The latest such case highlights an important point. While many of the cases have argued that using a keyword isn't "use in commerce," (a key part in determining if a trademark has been violated) this ruling found that it actually was used in commerce... but it still didn't matter because just because you own a trademark doesn't mean you can prevent all uses of it. You can only prevent uses that are likely to confuse potential customers over who is actually selling what, or that will dilute your brand. That's not the case when someone is simply putting up a competitive ad -- and it's nice to see a court recognize that fact.

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  • identicon
    fawkes, 4 Jan 2008 @ 2:44am

    Google adds to the confusion

    Google really doesn't help matters by allowing a trademark holder to block other companies from bidding on the trademarked term. It's useful for the owner, but confuses the issue as advertisers tend to think a) that it should happen automatically (rather than after a request) and b) that the system applies across all keyword bidding platforms, which it doesn't.

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

  • icon
    technofear (profile), 6 Jan 2008 @ 8:07pm

    Google does not seem to filter their advertisers.
    I play a mmo where it is against the EULA / TOS to buy/sell in game items or accounts.

    If I run a google search, the paid ads are for sites that illegally sell items. As these sites send massive amounts of in-game spam, I would like to see them restricted.

    Hard when google links to them...

    As an aside, one of our staff did a goggle search, clicked one of the paid ads, only to get a drive-by download of a nasty trojan.

    I think google could be a tad more diligent in whom it makes profit from (advertisers).

    I for one will NEVER again click a google paid advert, nor will anyone in my office.

    That is the imapct of google's lack of diligence.

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

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