engine - 6:02 pm on Mar 25, 2011 (gmt 0)
European Lawsuit May Have Ramifications For Trademark Keywords [nytimes.com]
A search under the word “Interflora” on Google’s search engine in Britain turns up sponsored advertisements for three different Web sites: Marks & Spencer’s, Asda’s and Interflora’s. Interflora argues that this misleads consumers.
The lawsuit is the latest in a series of cases in Europe in which the parameters of search engine advertising, which generates more than $20 billion a year for Google, are being defined.
In a landmark decision last year, the Court of Justice ruled that Google was not liable for trademark infringement in a case brought by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and other brand owners. LVMH argued that Google should block other advertisers from buying search keywords under LVMH trademarks like Louis Vuitton, saying these were often used to direct consumers to sites selling fake handbags and committing other trademark violations.
Rather than suing Google, Interflora went after a user of the service, Marks & Spencer. Nevertheless, if the court goes along with the advocate general’s opinion, something it generally does, the decision could have financial ramifications for Google if advertisers have less latitude to buy rivals’ brand names as keywords for so-called sponsored links, analysts said.