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Google Germany faces Adwords trademark fight

Uphill battle

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Google will appear in court next week, hoping to put its lucrative Adwords business in Germany onto a firmer legal footing. Back in May, a Hamburg court ruled against the Silicon Valley company, judging that it had no right to use a trademark without the owner's authorization. The meta search engine Metaspinner Media is objecting to the use by Google of the trademarked term Preispiraten (literally, "price pirates").

Similar litigation is in progress in both Europe and the United States. Google's classified text ad brokerage permits media buyers to bid for a keyword. But trademark owners aren't happy that rivals are using the trademarks to pitch their own offerings.

A judgement under appeal in France went in favour of the complainant, while litigation from Luis Vuitton and insurance giant AXA, also in France, is also in progress. In the US, the American Blind and Wallpaper Factory won an early battle, with Google allowing US advertisers to bid on trademarked keywords, but not mention them in the text of the advertisement itself.

"Google in particular should not be able to exploit and siphon off the considerable expenses incurred by the company when building up the brand 'Preispiraten'," Metaspinner Media said in a canned statement.

The case will be heard next Tuesday. ®

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