Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
adwords, trademarks

google, rosetta stone

Yet Another Misguided Lawsuit Over Google's AdWords, This Time From Rosetta Stone

from the blame-the-real-party! dept

It's getting a bit tiresome to see these types of lawsuits, but Eric Goldman notes that this appears to be the ninth such lawsuit against Google, claiming trademark violations for allowing people to buy AdWords on trademarked terms (or suggesting them as keywords). This time the company suing is Rosetta Stone, but the complaint is basically the same. In fact, it uses the same lawyers and apparently the same boilerplate language as some previous lawsuits (wonder if they charge full price for reusing the same text?). The problem is the same, however. It's a general misunderstanding of the purpose of trademark law, which does not give the trademark holder full control over the trademark, but merely is designed as consumer protection to stop confusion among buyers or, possibly, dilution of the trademark. But that does not prevent the use in competitive advertisements. And, even if it did the liability would be on the advertising party, and not Google. But Google has the cash, so everyone sues Google.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    taoareyou, Jul 13th, 2009 @ 8:45pm

    Their loss

    I'm sure Google has lawyers on the payroll, so the makers of Rosetta Stone are the ones throwing cash away butting their head against a legal wall. Do these lawyers approach the companies? Do they disclose that they have failed every time to make this case but somehow convince these atupid company execs that this time is different?

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

  2. identicon
    taoareyou, Jul 13th, 2009 @ 8:47pm

    And Yes

    I know I spelled stupid wrong. :) It's late.

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 13th, 2009 @ 9:24pm

    They asked for it...

    "But Google has the cash, so everyone sues Google."

    And they're known to be perfectly willing to payoff unfounded lawsuits. That's why everyone sues Google.

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

  4. identicon
    Lucretious, Jul 14th, 2009 @ 5:39am

    isn't that the same company that got fined by the feds for improper billing practices for its other products?

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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 14th, 2009 @ 12:26pm

    Not to mention the fact that the Rosetta Stone is, according to Wikipedia, "an Ancient Egyptian artifact which was instrumental in advancing modern understanding of hieroglyphic writing". So the company took its name from an already widely used term - why should they expect everyone to suddenly think of them instead of the actual slab of stone? And *plenty* of Google searches might be related to the actual Egyptian artifact, *not* the language learning company. So why shouldn't I be allowed to buy ads using those keywords if I'm a company selling, say, tours of Egypt?

    So, I'm thinking:
    1. Form a company with the same name as some historic site (let's say, Mt. Rushmore)
    2. Get a trademark on my term
    3. Force Google to redirect all searches for that to my website
    4 ...?
    5. Profit?

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

  6. identicon
    David Rothwell, Jul 15th, 2009 @ 12:15am

    Rosetta Stone suing Google

    I agree with your article, and the other posts here.

    This practice really is ridiculous, and I expect this one to come to nothing also.

    What would happen if these brand names started showing up in organic results (left hand side of the page) also, say as the result of a product review?

    Would the TM owner then request these pages removed from Google's index?

    I wrote more here -the-usa/

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 6:14am

    The actual problem was unscrupulous entities selling bogus or pirated software labeled as Rosetta Stone. How the geniuses at the top conflated it to this is beyond me. Wait, it's not beyond me, they were - and probably are, a bunch of knee jerk fools ready to bite the hand that feeds them at the slightest feel.

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

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