July 13, 2010
Google's long-running string of legal victories against claims of ad-related trademark infringement continued in Europe on Tuesday.
The French Supreme Court affirmed a ruling by the European Court of Justice in March that found Google's practice of allowing advertisers to bid for search keywords associated with third-party trademarks does not amount to trademark infringement. All told, Google prevailed in four trademark claims, filed by Louis Vuitton, bride service CNRRH, travel agency Viaticum, and French appliance company Gifam, respectively. In a blog post, Google's legal counsel in France, Benjamin Du Chaffaut, said the rulings mean that users will continue to benefit from broad access to information. "Our guiding principle has always been that advertising should benefit users, and our aim is to ensure that ads are relevant and useful," he said. "We believe that user interest is best served by maximizing the choice of keywords, ensuring relevant and informative advertising for a wide variety of different contexts." In the U.S., online advertisers have been winning similar trademark claims. In November, 2009, a Minnesota court rejected Fair Isaacs' claim that Experian's purchase of online ads triggered by certain keyword search terms infringed upon its trademarks. There was a similar ruling in College Network v. Moore Educational Publishers back in January, 2009. Last month, Eric Goldman, associate professor of law at Santa Clara University School of Law, published an update on Google's various trademark entanglements. He noted, "Google has successfully whittled its docket of over a dozen trademark challenges to its AdWords program down to six." And the company, he said, has had intermediate wins in some of the remaining cases. Google thus seems likely to prevail in those cases as well.
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