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European Ruling Due On LVMH Trademarks In Google AdWords

   
2:15 pm on Mar 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

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European Ruling Due On LVMH Trademarks In Google AdWords [nytimes.com]
A search for “Louis Vuitton” on Google’s British Web site turns up an advertisement for “Designer Handbags 70% off” — to the fury of LVMH, the French luxury goods conglomerate that owns the brand.

Not only are the handbags fake, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton says, but when unauthorized parties buy its trademarks as keywords to generate search ads, its own cost of using those brand names on Google soars.

LVMH and a number of other companies want Google to stop the practice, and a European court ruling expected Tuesday is shaping up to be the biggest test of its legality. Analysts say millions of euros are at stake, in a case with significant implications for the use of the Internet as a marketing tool for brand owners and as a moneymaker for Google.
10:35 am on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The ruling is out and Google won!

[curia.europa.eu...]
11:20 am on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Yip, from Google [googleblog.blogspot.com...]
11:55 am on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Europe Court Rules Google Not Guilty In LVMH Trademarks In AdWords [news.bbc.co.uk]
The European Court of Justice has ruled in favour of Google in a dispute with luxury goods maker LVMH.

The firm is owner of Louis Vuitton, Moet & Chandon champagne, Dior perfume and other brands.

It had claimed that Google's practice of selling keywords in advertising searches to the highest bidder damaged trademark law.

It means that people searching for branded products could also be shown rival brands or counterfeit goods.



"Google has not infringed trademark law by allowing advertisers to purchase keywords corresponding to their competitors' trademarks," the ruling found.

[edited by: engine at 12:34 pm (utc) on Mar 23, 2010]

12:10 pm on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I don't think this is over yet, a few points in that ruling leave it open to appeal.
1:04 pm on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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IANAL but the ECJ is the highest court in Europe so no appeal opportunities upwards are available although I do believe that differing states (countries in old lingo) will be able to interpret this ruling in their own manner within legislation
4:16 pm on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It means that people searching for branded products could also be shown rival brands or counterfeit goods.


That statement has no waste and summarises it all. Good for GORG, bad for honest companies.
5:35 pm on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I think its great Google won this one, they cant be taken responsible for everything that happens on the net.
5:50 pm on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator ewhisper is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



This was a pretty expected ruling as trademarks are limited protection and not absolute protection.

It all comes down to: Is it confusing for the searcher?

This is similar to the Geico ruling where the judge found that in and of itself, it was not confusing to the customer to show ads on trademarked searches and that individual ads needed to be examined to determine if confusion exists.

The next step, which might not be for a while, is the use of TMs in ads when you sell the product but aren't the actual TM holder (like a BestBuy ad showing ads for Apple iPod b/c you can buy an iPod at BestBuy).
3:14 am on Mar 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



It's an interesting one and I'm sure open to some twists and turns in the appeal process.

Many affiliates or " partners " may find themselves constrained by their suppliers commercial whims though. If a supplier wants to retain ownership of their trademark they can refuse to allow supply to that partner.

But where i find it interesting is when brand name x is used to trigger a response for a search on brand name y. I recently witnessed a major blue chip supplier in the US seeking to constrain an affiliate for " bait and switch " using their TM .

That is , advertise one TM's product , make a claim about it and then enable the consumer to choose a competitor. In reality this has been going on through the ages , way before e-commerce.

Is Google involved in facilitating a " bait and switch " ? Or does the ruling not need to cover this ?
3:54 am on Mar 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Does this means that from now on we can bid on keywords including a trademark on markets where it was not possible before (such as most European countries)?
5:51 am on Mar 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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That statement has no waste and summarises it all. Good for GORG, bad for honest companies.


It is good for competition. If I search for say BMW, why should I not see a Mercedes ad to remind me of the other options.

The point of trademarks is to make it possible to distinguish good, as long as no one is passing off goods made by someone else as made by LVMH, then LVMH do not have a legitimate objection (i.e. people can say "buy our stuff instead). If people are selling stuff that is labelled with an LVMH brand without licensing it, then LVMH already plenty of legal avenues to stop to (I am pretty sure its a criminal offence in Europe).
6:31 pm on Mar 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member demaestro is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



If people are selling stuff that is labelled with an LVMH brand without licensing it, then LVMH already plenty of legal avenues to stop to (I am pretty sure its a criminal offence in Europe)


Yes but why go after offenders when you can sue someone rich?