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Louis Vuitton sues Google for alleged trademark infringement online
Another French lawsuit.
Luke_SR




msg:1237272
 8:08 pm on Oct 24, 2003 (gmt 0)


[bayarea.com...]

"PARIS - Google and its French subsidiary are facing another trademark challenge in the wake of a landmark ruling that could force the popular Internet search engine to change how it sells advertising."

 

cfx211




msg:1237273
 8:50 pm on Oct 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

If this goes against them in more than just France, I'd hate to be the guy at Google that has to put together a country by country list of trademarks and associated restricted names.

Chris_R




msg:1237274
 8:57 pm on Oct 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Almost every word is trademarked in some country - there is no practical solution to this "problem".

rcjordan




msg:1237275
 8:59 pm on Oct 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well, I expect that the French courts will say that if G has the capability to index 3,307,998,701 web pages for free then they could certainly whip up some sort of trademark database when they're getting ad income.

NFFC




msg:1237276
 9:10 pm on Oct 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

>I'd hate to be the guy at Google that has to put together a country by country list of trademarks and associated restricted names.

I'd hate to be the guy at Google that decided not to respond correctly. Trademark stuff doesn't go straight to court, they ask you refuse, they ask again, you refuse etc etc then it goes to court.

Companies have to protect their trademarks, business 101. Google needs a shake up in the TM compliance department as a matter of urgency.

homegirl




msg:1237277
 10:45 pm on Oct 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

It was my understanding that Google used to remove some of these AdWords if a complaint (by the trademark's owner) was made. Case in point: I discovered one of my client's competitors optimizing on my client's business name (trademarked) and product (trademarked) both organically and in AdWords. My client's lawyers wrote to the competitors (the organic campaign was dropped or adjusted) and the client brought this to Google's attention (U.S.). The AdWords listing was dropped.

Does this not happen in general? In the case of "bourse des voyages", I can see how that might be considered fairly general (even if they won in the French court). And alas, for Vuitton products, I can also see Google's side. Perhaps the above example is not the greatest example to use (my client) because it was far more clear that the competitor didn't offer my client's products nor were they a partner of some sort, they instead were capitalizing on the brand name. However, I realize this is a tricky issue with regard to ad campaigns. Has anyone here had similar experiences?

natural




msg:1237278
 11:38 pm on Oct 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

should it be google's responsibility to check and make sure that every advertiser sells what they say they sell? do newspaper classifieds do that? do radio stations? do television stations? no. corporations should not shoot the messenger, as far as i am concerned. why don't they file a false advertising suit against the people who bought the advertising, instead? additionally, there are things that companies can do to prohibit other companies from advertising on their trademark.

it seems to me that companies that do not take the appropriate preventative steps wind up playing the blame game, and ducking their own responisibilites. it doesn't take much to protect a brand on many fronts...google being one of them.

cfx211




msg:1237279
 12:03 am on Oct 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

We just had google pull ads that were using our trademarked brand name last week.

In our case it was because the company running the ads was creating confusion by using our site name in their ad.

For the this case, its a tough balance because the company is making a product that relies on others to sell it. Therefore let the product name gets used by anyone trying to sell the product.

I think this is a matter of greed vs greed in a grey area of fair use. Hopefully some common sense rules will come out of it that are balanced.

dannysullivan




msg:1237280
 12:31 am on Oct 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well, I expect that the French courts will say that if G has the capability to index 3,307,998,701 web pages for free then they could certainly whip up some sort of trademark database when they're getting ad income.

It's not really a technological problem. It's of practicality.

Any word could be a trademark. In the US, trademarks don't even have to be registered. How do you look up all of those?

Let's assume that in France, every trademark is indeed registered and online in a searchable database. OK, "Egg" is a bank in France, and "Orange" is a cell phone company. Do you ban anyone from bidding on these words?

What do you do when two people own the same word, such as Apple Computers and Apple whatever the Beatles music company was called. Who trumps whom?

What do you do when someone wants to sell a product where the words used to describe it are a trademark. For example, let's say you sell used cell phones. It's not illegal to do this. But are you prevented from using the word "Nokia?"

More complications. Perhaps you can't bid on "Nokia," but can you bid on "used Nokia cell phones?"

Trademark owners have some serious and legit concerns about how terms are sold, but it's a mistake to assume that bidding on words that may also be trademarks in certain circumstances is a clear cut case on the trademark holder's side.

In the US, this type of case was ruled against Playboy during a situation involving keyword-linked banner ads on Excite (I know intimately, as I was an expert witness on the Excite side).

The Body Solutions case is the most serious I know of involving keyword linked paid listings, and that's still pending. One complication there is that Body Solutions argues it was hard to find them. I've got no such trouble when I search for "vuitton" at Google France: [google.fr...]

In Germany, Excite lost a case involving keyword-linked banners -- but everything settled out-of-court eventually, and keyword listings continued to sell over there.

One thing is for certain -- this isn't a Google problem. You don't "hate to be the guy at Google." You hate to be the person at any place that has any type of commercial listings that are keyword searchable. If the French ruling is upheld on appear, it will impact Yahoo/Overture, eBay and may other types of businesses.

FYI, I'll link drop and a moderator can pull, if they like. No worries. But I do have a page that lists a lot of past articles on this topic. The Excite cases, Body Solutions etc are all there: [searchenginewatch.com...]

This is the old WW discussion on Body Solutions:
[webmasterworld.com...]

Or it was -- I can't seem to reach it, keep getting a login screen though I'm already logged in :) I blame ZoneAlarm.

Chris_R




msg:1237281
 12:33 am on Oct 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

There is a difference between google:

1) Removing a COMPETITOR using someone elses TRADEMARK to sell COMPETING goods.

2) A RESELLER goods with the TRADEMARK.

3) A TRADEMARK that is VAGUE and should have only specific intention.

Yes companies have to protect their trademarks, but trademarks don't mean they can go around deleting every instance of that word where they see fit.

#1 is almost always illegal and as far as I know google will remove these.

#3 is ridiculous. Should google remove every bidder for the terms:

ONLINE BACKUP
FLOWERS ONLINE
FLY ONLINE
ONLINE GAMER
ONLINE CHECK

And even just the single word "ONLINE"? They are all live registered trademarks.

Trademarks - IMHO - aren't cut and dry - you have clearly generic terms - like online - that shouldn't be trademarked to begin with and would never hold up in court.

Then you have situations such as what is in #1 - and that is pretty obvious as well.

Then you have the semi generic terms and the legitimate uses of trademarks as well.

If google did allow a COMPETITOR to use L.V. - then I think they have some problems and need to teach some people there how things should be done. But I am not so sure if it was a reseller or other non-competitive person. Google should allow as many people to advertise as legally possible. If they feel the law is on their side - then they should fight for it. If they made a mistake - they should admit it and make sure it doesn't happen again.

plumsauce




msg:1237282
 3:53 am on Oct 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

If they feel the law is on their side - then they should fight for it. If they made a mistake - they should admit it and make sure it doesn't happen again.

exactly what print publications do. ads are their bread
and butter. they cannot afford to let their market be
shrunk artificially. the internet is already doing
that to them very nicely. G on the other hand seems to be
somewhat lazy in with regard to fair use, instead,
preferring to drop ads at the first hint of a
complaint.

++++

BlueSky




msg:1237283
 4:21 am on Oct 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

An official at France's Software Protection Agency, which gathers evidence for court hearings on piracy and trademark infringement, said several major companies are preparing cases against Google.

French flood gates have opened.

whoemeye




msg:1237284
 6:56 am on Oct 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

I really don't see it as a Google problem. The "Lawsuits" should be applied to the advertisers. For example if the ad has in it "LV is not as good as our product" and it pops up as a paid ad in Google when LV is typed in the bar then it is the advertisers that put the line in. Google cannot be expected to continually monitor all their advertisers pages. If it is a keyword in the ad that pops it up to the top then it is a keyword the website put in. And websites can be changed daily... One day it isn't there, the next day it is... Who is at fault?

lgn




msg:1237285
 1:22 pm on Oct 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

lawman can probably comment on this. But I belive the big problem is that France uses a Civil law code instead of Common law. Common Law requires a greater burden of proof than civil law.

And when you get into the murky area of trademart law, there is a greater chance that the plaintiff
will win, where they would probably lose under common law.

Chris_D




msg:1237286
 1:33 am on Oct 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

For Adwords - there is a standard Google 'form letter' that you get a client to send to Google, on Company letterhead, if someone uses your brand name or trademark or company name etc as a 'trigger word' in an adword campaign. Eg the most common example I see is eg someone buys eg 'ford' as a trigger word to display an advert for eg a 'general motors' dealership (often with no reference to 'ford' in the adwords copy).

For SERPS - where a competitor makes an optimised page which uses a client's trademarks - I now resort to the 'Al Capone' method of removal. Al Capone was jailed for tax evasion - not for being a ganster - same outcome, but on a different charge. I've found the easiest way to get trademark infringers removed is to identify breaches of the published Google TOS (hidden links, hidden text, etc) - and just report the page for that - so much easier than trying to go down the trademark / lawyers route - and same end result - they're gone.....

: )

Chris_D
Sydney Australia

Receptional




msg:1237287
 2:10 pm on Oct 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

It is not just Adwords that Google has to worry about in France... it is the natural listings too...

[silicon.com...]

secretceleb




msg:1237288
 7:03 pm on Oct 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

It's up to the courts to define precedent.
This case involves generic strings rather than specific brands.
Can't say i agree with the judgement.

bluelook




msg:1237289
 8:50 am on Oct 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thatīs why on these days itīs so difficult to register a trademark. Iīm opening a new business, and only today they accepted a name for it. After more than 2 months of trial and error...
They must analyse each request of trademark very carefully...

percentages




msg:1237290
 8:53 am on Oct 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

>They must analyse each request of trademark very carefully...

One would hope so, 2 months seems a little excessive though.....maybe you had a tough one.

PCInk




msg:1237291
 9:13 am on Oct 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Trademark stuff doesn't go straight to court, they ask you refuse, they ask again, you refuse etc etc then it goes to court.

True, in the US and the UK and many other countries. But we are talking about France here.

France does things they way they want to do. For example, one organisation I worked for is a legally registered charity in the UK, you can send them money and they can claim the income tax back (so someone sends them Ģ100, tax man sends them Ģ28, very nice!).

Same organisation in France and they TAX you for the same thing. Donate 100 Euros and they tax you about 120 Euros. Yes, exactly, for every donation, you owe the government MORE than what was donated.

Currently in EU court, millions outstanding and charity refusing to pay; millions of pounds worth of equipment was shipped to the UK before the French government could get their hands on it.

So it would not surprise me if Google were never contacted about this and the court action just happened.

Nova Reticulis




msg:1237292
 3:52 pm on Nov 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

If I were Google I'd just freaking ban France from using Google entirely. After a week or two the lynch mob will compensate for the litigous cretins.

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