European Court Of Justice Finds Google Not Guilty Of Trademark Infringement In Ad Sales... But Leaves Lots Of Loopholes

from the will-they-give-up-yet? dept

Various big luxury brands have been trying for years to get courts to say that Google is somehow liable for trademark infringement if it sells ads based on people doing searches on trademarked keywords. Most courts have rejected this argument -- but there was one in France that accepted it and sided with LVMH (owners of brands Louis Vuitton, Moet & Hennessey, among others). That case moved up to the European Court of Justice, which had already suggested that selling ads based on trademarked keywords shouldn't be considered infringing. I had thought, upon reading the BBC's coverage of the final decision, that the court had strongly agreed with Google by saying that it was not guilty of trademark infringement, but it seemed odd that LVMH seemed to be claiming victory in the quote in that article, saying: "the ruling clarified the rules of online advertising."

Looking at other coverage of the ruling, it appears the BBC's explanation leaves out many of the important details. While it's true that the court found that Google was not guilty, it did say that Google needs to remove ads when companies complain and that national courts can set their own rules on this topic. It's not a complete win for either party, but it does seem to give more control to big brands to block perfectly legitimate advertising.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Ima Fish (profile), Mar 23rd, 2010 @ 11:40am

    "Google needs to remove ads when companies complain"

    That's more than a loophole, it's basically an outright win for the brand owners who sued. And it's a complete perversion of what trademark is supposed to be about: consumer protection.

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

  2. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 23rd, 2010 @ 11:55am


    Agreed. Is it a blanket action, like a DMCA takedown request? Or is there any oversight by any third party to determine whether or not the takedown request is frivilous?

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

  3. identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, Mar 23rd, 2010 @ 12:00pm

    im gonna just send 50000000 complaints fo all kinds

    and wonder how many businesses will suffer after paying for there ad.

    Capitalism is becoming bad ....very stupid and bad

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

  4. icon
    Ima Fish (profile), Mar 23rd, 2010 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Re:

    It sounds blanket to me.

    Imagine if someone searches on Google for "Chevy Venture Honda Pilot comparison." Now what if the Chevrolet's adword advertisement was a comparison between the Venture and the Pilot. Would that have to be pulled too?

    Let's go beyond adwords. Let's assume that GM puts a video on YouTube comparing its cars to Honda. When you search for Honda that GM video/ad comes up first, should that also be removed if Honda complains?

    This is a huge blow to free speech and it makes it more difficult for consumers to find factual information they might need before purchasing.

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

  5. identicon
    Any Mouse, Mar 23rd, 2010 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I believe comparison advertising is illegal in certain EU member states, anyways...

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

  6. icon
    sprearson81 (profile), Jun 10th, 2012 @ 8:47am

    These suits are based on a very shaky understanding of how things work.

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

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