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French court says Non! to Google's adwords

Upholds trademark infringement claim

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A French court has ruled that Google's keyword advertising service infringes on the trademark of Le Meridian Hotels, and has ordered the company to stop using the trademark to trigger advertisements for Le Meridian's competitors. The judge ordered Google to pay all court fees, and a €2000 ($2595) fine.

The Nanterre court said that Google must stop linking competitor ads to searches for Le Meridian trademark items and Le Meridian brands. If the company fails to remove offending ad links within 72 hours of being notified of a listing, it will face a daily fine of €150 ($195).

Google relies on adword sales for around 98 per cent of its income. Not all of this is dependent on competitor searches, however. Still, Google says it will appeal the decision, saying: "We will continue to defend against this suit, which we believe is without merit."

The French court's decision at odds with rulings on similar cases in the US. In the case of Geico, a car insurance company, a US court ruled that Google's adword sales were consistent with other comparative advertising practices in the states, and that the practice did not violate federal trademark laws.

However, in Europe, Louis Vuitton has also successfully sued the search company for trademark infringement. ®

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