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American Airlines Files Lawsuit Against Yahoo

 5:44 pm on Oct 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

American Airlines Files Lawsuit [computerweekly.com]Against Yahoo
Dallas-based American Airlines has filed a lawsuit against Yahoo claiming the search engine allows companies the right to use the airline's trademark for internet searches.

The carrier in a statement explains it does not seek to prevent the display of search results. "We are only requesting Yahoo to stop selling our trademarks and related terms to others who purchase them to confuse and/or divert consumers searching for AA.com or American's products."



 6:15 pm on Oct 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

So in other words, they want Yahoo to stop people advertising on 2 specific trademarked keywords: "AmericanAirlines" (no space) and "aa.com" as those are the only 2 items I see as being trademarked. So bidding on "American Airlines" (with a space) should still be fair game?

But if an affiliate (or travel agent) is selling American's products, they should also still be allowed to bid on either term, correct?

If yes to both, I guess I'd probably agree with them.

Slight diversion: if "AmericanAirlines" is trademarked, why doesn't the TM symbol appear in the "AmericanAirlines Arena" logo or web site?


 7:10 pm on Oct 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

So, I compete against AmericanAirlines. I want to show consumers that I have a better deal. I buy the search term "AmericanAirlines" for an ad next to the search results.

What's wrong with that? Isn't that the way it is suppose to work?

Search on McCain (or Republican) or Obama (or Democrat), shouldn't the other side be able to offer a link to their point of view?

"Confuse or divert" is exactly what is going on, true. And, an ad shouldn't be allowed to lie. But, how about "The Inside Story about McCain/Obama?" or "Good deals on AmericanAirlines." What is a good deal?

If AmericanAirline has a legal case against someone buying an ad, they should address the person who bought the ad, not the firm who is just selling the space. Yahoo is not in a position to decide.

This case should be tossed. They own the trademark, but not the market or the channel.


 7:45 pm on Oct 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

What's wrong with that? Isn't that the way it is suppose to work?

Say having a lawsuit is here. Actually having a case is
walk.walk.walk.walk.walk.walk. waaaay over here. :). The two things aren't necessarily in the same room.


 7:50 pm on Oct 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

AmericanArlines tried this already with google:

The result:


 8:05 pm on Oct 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

>They own the trademark, but not the market or the channel.

This may not be a simple case. I think it's inherently difficult, simply because of the concepts involved.

On the one hand, to "own a trademark" means to be able to restrict its use to refer to any (competing) product. That control is exercisable in EVERY commercial context: in EVERY market, and in EVERY commercial channel. Just because you "own", say, a food market, doesn't mean you can make your own bottled colored corn syrup and call it "Coke" and sell it therein: and the Coca-Cola Corporation has legions of lawyers to explain this to you. You don't have to sell ANY colored corn syrup. You can sell CCS from another source--but you must NOT let ANYONE call it coke: not your clerks, not your marketroids, and not even your customers! (That's because someone owns the "Coke" brand, and the only reason anyone would call a CCS drink "Coke" is because of the ubiquitous brand. Even that brand COULD easily become generic, if those legions of lawyers didn't keep busy.)

On the other hand, "American Airlines" is really THE way, in the English language, to speak of certain generic concepts, for example, the class of all airline companies based in (or operating in) America. It is inherently a generic phrase.


 1:56 am on Oct 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Don't YOU people gripe when other people scrape content or advertise/link YOUR company name? Don't YOU get upset when others register alternate versions of YOUR domain names?


 7:03 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

But if an affiliate (or travel agent) is selling American's products, they should also still be allowed to bid on either term, correct?

Actually it would not surprise me AT ALL if this was specifically forbidden by AA's terms agreement with affiliates. I've run into this with other companies. Some companies seem to want to 'protect' their trademarks even when it means lost revenues from authorized affiliates advertising services for them.


 7:22 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

A major problem with this is that "American Airlines" is a descriptive term that is used when discussing airlines in the USA... and therefore is imo it is not as cut and dry as if their name was "Wigglewoo Airlines"

When in a discussion I can talk about American airlines and not be referring to the company at all but rather to airlines in the USA.

If I were advertising a directory of airlines in the USA, wouldn't "American airlines" be fair game for keywords in such a market?

They have an unfortunate name that can be used in common language when talking about airlines in America. Can they take control of those words because that doesn't seem right. Their name describes the industry.

It would be like if Google's name was "Internet Searches" and they tried to stop others from using those words together when describing their service.

[edited by: Demaestro at 7:25 pm (utc) on Oct. 27, 2008]


 9:55 pm on Oct 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

This news is not "news". This happens everyday in Google and Yahoo, trademark owners requesting to not allow advertisers bid in its terms.
The only thing is that for own strange reason this hit the news. It is trivial everyday work.

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