Trademark Infringement if Keyword Matches Ad Text

Aug 15, 2005 • 3:03 pm | comments (1) by | Filed Under Legal Issues in Search

The news hit that Google loses AdWords trade mark case in the US but it was not clear to me or WebmasterWorld and SEW Forum members as to what the exact ruling was. Basically, The Register summarizes that "The judge found that there was infringement where the terms were used in the text of sponsored ads." Also, "there had been a breach of the insurance firm�s trade mark rights �solely with regard to those sponsored links that use GEICO's trade marks in their headings or text.""

But based on my past research on legal issues in search, Google stopped allowing the use of trademarks within the headline or description. So I, as well as others, were scratching our heads about what is new with this ruling. Good thing Gary Price blogged about this case and linked to Judge Brinkema's opinion, which on page three says (my understanding) that its

(1) There is not sufficient evidence to prove "confusion" by someone bidding on a trademarked keyword alone. (2) There is not sufficient evidence to prove "confusion" by someone placing a trademark in the ad copy (heading or description) alone. (3) But if both are done, bidding on a trademark and placing the trademark in the ad copy, then there is sufficient evidence to prove that Google "violate the Lanham Act."

I hope I got that right. :)

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