Google comes up trumps in AdWords dispute

'Internal use' not trademark violation

A New York district court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Rescuecom, a computer repair firm, that accused Google of trademark infringement by selling its brand as a search term.

Google's keyword advertising system is called AdWords. If a company pays for a keyword it means its text advert will be displayed alongside search results when that word is searched for in Google.

Mordue's decision means the case will not be heard, but other courts have allowed similar cases to go further. Insurance company Geico took a case against Google on similar grounds. That case was heard in the Eastern District Court of Virginia and was mostly a victory for Google.

The judge ruled that Google's sale of trademarked words to third parties was not an infringement, but that it would be an infringement to include that trademark in the text ad itself, since that caused a "likelihood of confusion".

That case was settled out of court and neither party has ever revealed the terms of the settlement. Another case, involving American Blind and Wallpaper Factory, is pending.

Judge Norman Mordue of the northern district court of New York ruled in the Rescuecom case that Google's "internal use" did not violate any trademark rights because it was not claimed that it put the trademarked terms on "any goods, containers, displays or advertisements, or that its internal use is visible to the public".

David Milman, CEO of Rescuecom, called the decision a "dangerous precedent".

French courts have taken a firmer view and have ordered Google not to allow a search using one company's trademarks to turn up information about another company's products or services.

See: The ruling (16 page/1.7MB PDF)

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