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Google's AdWords set to face jury for the first time

Wallpapering over the trademark cracks

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Google will face another trade mark law suit over its AdWords system after a judge refused Google's request that the case be thrown out of court. The issue will be tried before a jury for the first time.

Google has already won suits over its ad system, which allows companies to buy the right to display their advert when a certain term is searched for. The new case will be the first to be heard before a jury, according to the lawyers acting against Google.

Trade mark owners have argued that they should be the only firms allowed to advertise when their trade mark is searched for.

American Blind & Wallpaper Factory (ABWF), the US's biggest reseller of window blinds, has sued Google for abuse of trade marks because of rivals' right to buy adverts when web users search for its name. The ad system does not affect the actual search results delivered by Google's search engine.

Google applied for summary judgment in the case, asking the US District Court for the Northern District of California to rule immediately in its favour. That court's judge Jeremy Fogel refused, saying that the issue should go to trial.

"The large number of businesses and users affected by Google's AdWords program indicates that a significant public interest exists in determining whether the AdWords program violates trademark law," said the judge's ruling.

Google has previously won two federal cases on similar grounds against car insurance company Geico and computer repairer Rescue.com, which is appealing against the verdict.

“We are gratified that our client will get its day in court, and that Google will finally face a jury for its trafficking in other companies’ intellectual property," said David Rammelt of Kelley Drye, the law firm which is representing ABWF. "The case also carries implications for other global companies who resent Google's profiting off the sale of their brand names and trademarks."

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OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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