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