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Google Wins Geico Lawsuit
dnathan




msg:1110921
 5:57 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - Google Inc. won a major legal victory Wednesday when a federal judge said the search engine could continue to sell ads triggered by searches using trademarked company names.

Brinkema said the case would continue to move forward on one remaining issue, whether ads that pop up and actually use Geico in their text violate trademark law. Google contends that its policies expressly prohibit advertisers from using trademark names in the text of their ads. The search engine says it does its best to prevent ads that violate the policy from sneaking in, and that the advertisers would be liable for any trademark violation, not Google.

Complete article:
[siliconvalley.com...]

 

Robsp




msg:1110922
 6:34 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Good news but certainly not the end of it....

bcolflesh




msg:1110923
 6:38 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

[webmasterworld.com...]

iblaine




msg:1110924
 6:41 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

As much as I like Google and keeping the internet free from restrictions, I think Google's win cound encourage shady activity. It will be interesting to see how people respond. A lot of people with bad intentions are probably getting excited over this lawsuit.

[edited by: iblaine at 7:32 pm (utc) on Dec. 15, 2004]

cagey1




msg:1110925
 7:20 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google contends that its policies expressly forbid advertisers from using trademark names in the text of their ads. The search engine says it does its best to prevent ads that violate the policy from sneaking in...

OK, I know that if a trademark owner notifies Google, Google will remove (and prevent) ads that use that trademark.

Google no longer screens keywords (in the USA) for trademarks, allowing "non-trademark" ads to appear when someone searches for trademarked text.

But what happens when an advertiser uses the {Keyword} ad feature in the title of an ad that is in an adgroup with a trademarked keyword?

Does Google detect that the "dynamic" title now contains a trademarked name? Does it automatically display the alternate title?

PPCBidder




msg:1110926
 7:39 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

But what happens when an advertiser uses the {Keyword} ad feature in the title of an ad that is in an adgroup with a trademarked keyword?

Does Google detect that the "dynamic" title now contains a trademarked name? Does it automatically display the alternate title?

Funny this comes up right now. I recently got busted for this very thing on a term I didn't even realize was a trademark - linking to a competitive site. I glossed over it as a match is the keyword tool, checking it off without much thought.

I read around and google's main point is that the user is not confused and there is no dilution if the term is not in ad text (edit - which now has precedent, woo!), but with my dynamic ad that is exactly what happened in my case.

I got a nice cease and desist order from a rather big california law firm. In addition they demanded to know statistics for the keyword and profits made from the keyword. I thought that could mean more trouble was coming even if I ceased to use the term. Luckily it didn't, I know often times the point is just to scare you into never using the term again for sure, but my spend was also low - under $50. If it had ended up in the thousands or something I wonder if everything would have been dropped so easily.

If I just used the term as a trigger (or as an aff for the same company) the situation would have been less hairy (seen by how google won the geico case), although the company involved may have still asked me to cease and desist.

As you state, I think the only major problem is dynamic insertion into titles/text when linking to a different URL. As recently as a week ago this did happen, so I'm scanning my dynamic ads now to make sure I don't have any other potential liabilities on my hands.

skibum




msg:1110927
 8:46 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

But if Geico wins, it opens upa whole can of worms. It might keep ad costs down for TM holders, but how long would it be before (kinda like the baloney with tech based patents) people start trying to TM the most generic word possible.

Depending on how things played out that could just about cripple online commerce at least as it relates to search. Nobody but the lawyers would make money from it.

As far as the law firm wanting to know how much money was made from the term, that is probably just because they are entitled to recover up to 3x the profit derived from improper use of the TM.

inasisi




msg:1110928
 8:49 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

I did have an ad for a trademarked keyword with dynamic insertion into the ad text. G simply used the default word instead of the keyword while displaying the Ad instead of the trademarked keyword.

Oetzi




msg:1110929
 9:14 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Inasisi, you said that "G simply used the default word instead of the keyword while displaying the Ad instead of the trademarked keyword". Did you notice that on their pages or on parner pages?

inasisi




msg:1110930
 9:52 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Oetzi, I saw it on Google's site only. I didn't check it on other sites.

PPCBidder




msg:1110931
 10:01 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have seen trademarked terms get automatically disapproved in ad text, but I guess with the term I was using it is possible they hadn't as yet requested for the term to be restricted by google. So I guess my worries about dynamic insertion may be ill founded, according to what inasisi says.

I'm still going to try to refrain from any chance of having trademarks appear in ad text, though, whether restricted by google or not e.g. if i decide to use a trademark as a trigger I will use a static ad.

shorebreak




msg:1110932
 10:11 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Where's multiman to scold the justice system?

Robsp




msg:1110933
 10:13 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

if i decide to use a trademark as a trigger I will use a static ad.

We are adapting this as an inhouse policy as well.

edit_g




msg:1110934
 10:17 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

This isn't really good news if you've taken the time to build a strong brand. It also doesn't change anything too much.

Geico made a big deal out of going after Google - great, but most sensible law firms will advise you to go after the actual company/individual doing the infringement.

If there is a transgression, and you are the trademark holder, you can still notify Google that you own the mark - and they'll usually remove any advertising.

It's also interesting how there doesn't seem to be any advertising on Google trademarks:

[google.com...]

[google.com...]

Funny that...

skipfactor




msg:1110935
 10:19 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>I have seen trademarked terms get automatically disapproved in ad text

Yea, it sucks to be an "each office is independently owned and operated" for a major corporation and not be able to use the trademarked name we pay dearly for.

sidyadav




msg:1110936
 10:22 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thought this might happen. Haven't seen Google loose a lawsuit as such to date. I guess this maybe unfair on some organizations with a strong brand, I've seen such examples, but in the end this is better than getting bad publicity from the press, isn't it?

And anyway, if the user who clicks on the ad which has your brandname in it realises that it isn't yours, he may just hit the back button?

Sid

edit_g




msg:1110937
 10:36 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

And anyway, if the user who clicks on the ad which has your brandname in it realises that it isn't yours, he may just hit the back button?

And he may not, why take the chance? ;)

blaze




msg:1110938
 12:30 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

This is huge.

It is also a big win for the consumer and for the independent webmaster.

But, yes, I'm not sure this is the last we have heard of this.

There are a lot of big brands that aren't going to be happy about this and they have the ear of the president, congress, and senate.

I wouldn't be surprised if the trademark law is amended to handle this problem.

walkman




msg:1110939
 12:43 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

"It's also interesting how there doesn't seem to be any advertising on Google trademarks"

I wonder if the accept it...

nuevojefe




msg:1110940
 12:49 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

There sure was a lot of people on this board yesterday who were sure Geico would win. :-)

MultiMan




msg:1110941
 1:07 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

All the hoopla, but according to the article, there is still an outstanding issue in the lawsuit still to be resolved. Plus, other similar lawsuits are also still outstanding. So, only G$ worshippers seeking to spin a spin would call this a full-blown actual "victory."

And what I see all the G$ worshippers applauding here is G$'s open admission of lying about its own TOS.

That is, the TOS requires that AdWords ads that are triggered by a keyword are supposed to offer the user something about that keyword. Can we say, RELEVANCE, here? But according to the foolish excited response about this supposed "victory," G$ spin doctors and all of G$'s worshippers are both praising and glad that the decision simply "legally" allowed G$ to allow advertisers to break those TOS by triggering ads that do NOT offer anything about the keyword.

That is, a NON-Geico advertiser that does not offer G$'s users anything about Geico is being legally allowed to advertise for Geico searches. IRRELEVANT ADVERTISING! And all the silly hoopla is praising such IRRELEVANCE.

So, in the end, G$ worshippers are applauding the IRRELEVANCE of AdWords ads being triggered when those ads do not actually offer anything for the keyword. Praise of irrelevance! lol

It is funny how silly molehills are viewed as mountains by G$ worshippers! And it's even funnier how those worshippers are actually praising proof of G$'s lying and irrelevance! lol :)

jk3210




msg:1110942
 2:22 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>Can we say, RELEVANCE, here?<<

Only if you understand the concept that the term "Geico" could and \\\SHOULD/// tirgger ads for:

insurance
auto insurance
car insurance
liability insurance
collision insurance
"dude, where's my car" insurance
deductable
etc.
etc.
etc.

cyhcto




msg:1110943
 2:35 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

I do have some good news though! I just saved a bunch... ummm. Forget it.

I bet it's been done. If so, I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.

blaze




msg:1110944
 2:38 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

heh heh.

This is a huge win, no matter what. I am anything but a google worshipper.

As for the other point, I don't even know why that had to go to court. It's obvious to anyone you can't have other people's trademarks in your ads..

MultiMan




msg:1110945
 2:56 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

jk3210,

Let non-Geico advertisers set their ads for those other search terms then. It is IRRELEVANT for their ad to appear in a search for Geico.

So, anyone praising this single part of the lawsuit is praising the lies of G$ to allow IRRELEVANT ads in contradiction of the AdWords TOS.

G$ bragging about this molehill "victory" is actually their bragging that they allow IRRELEVANT ads.

bears5122




msg:1110946
 3:09 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't consider this a victory for anyone. So this just means that when my company dominates a market, I'll have to pay $3/click to be ahead of my competition for my own name.

I would say that those supporting this are ignorant. Google has done nothing but pass the trademark buck on to US. When trademark adsense ads appear on my site, I'm apparently responsible. Now I'm responsible for my ad showing for trademarked terms, not Google.

Google worshippers can dance around while Google sits backs and laughs as they bend us over the table.

jk3210




msg:1110947
 3:28 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>It is IRRELEVANT for their ad to appear in a search for Geico<<

The U.S. Court system doesn't share your opinion.

hurlimann




msg:1110948
 3:30 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Blaze in the UK you can use a competitor's trademark for comparative advertising.

Use of a mark in the context of comparative advertising will not infringe a registered mark if the use accords with honest practices in industrial or commercial matters.

jdancing




msg:1110949
 4:04 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

It's good news until you see people using your trademarked site name to get a sponsored ad above your natural listing. Then you need to buy AdWords for your own site name to compete with those who are using your own branding against you.

jk3210




msg:1110950
 4:19 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>It's good news until you see people using your trademarked site name<<

Yep, it's a monumental waste of resources. Even if you win in court against one person, you're only protected until the next bozo comes along and you have to defend your mark against that person too.

Like the suit once told me, "Your mark is only yours as long as you can defend it in court."

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