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The bill passed the Utah House today by a vote of 38-36 and now goes to the state Senate.
I'd bet 30%+ of Google and Yahoo's revenue comes from brands bidding on each others' trademarks, so if this was ever taken up at the national level, it would eviscerate the search engines' revenues.
This is a Utah bill only, it would need to be enacted state by state to make any significant impact though. My guess is that would never happen given the scope,
By serving the ads in Utah and interacting with a Utah consumers, my guess is that the argument could be made that they are conducting business in Utah
My guess is that would never happen given the scope
These legislators have a serious lack of understanding about how search and "keyword association" work then... They assume that Google somehow "knows" every trademark and all the potential competitors in each of those trademarks' market segments. You cannot just base the ad suppression on trademark-words alone, as the previous discussion here about searches for "American airlines" (small "a") demonstrated; The additional knowledge about the search context is required.
I'm sure Google's doing fairly well at this but with the current state of the art, it'd probably just be safer for Google to block Adwords and Adsense access from Utah, if ROI versus potential cost of litigation is taken into account.
If so, ICC usually wins.
Piecemeal legislation affecting matters of cross-border commerce tends to screw up commerce, badly. The Web is inherently cross-border. Patchwork legislation will likely be lethal to web-based commerce. Therefore I expect many State efforts to regulate the Web will . . eventually . . wither.
I think the reason is that they lost a case with a European trademark holder for refusing to apply such filters. If it works in Europe, it could work in the US too.
[edited by: true_INFP at 11:26 am (utc) on Mar. 7, 2009]
Most bills that are introduced are never passed. Many such bills are introduced by legislators doing a favor for a constituent or, more likely, a campaign contributor.
Legislators don't really expect such measures to pass and usually spend little to no time doing the horse-trading necessary to get them through both bodies of the legislature and past the governor. But having introduced the bill, they can tell the folks back home they did their damnedest.
At least half the time, the bills are written by lobbyists who also know they won't pass but want to look good to their clients. In fact, yours truly has written all kinds of ridiculous bills that, thank god, never saw the light of day after they were introduced.
If 1-000-contacts are that bothered couldn't they send several Emails to LensCrafters or who ever and ask them to stop?
It's not that simple. A broad match keyword, say "contacts" could still trigger an ad when someone searches for 1-800-contacts. Without factual Google data to back it up, how could one advertiser be 100% sure a competitor is bidding on their branded keywords?
Could one advertiser force a competitor to add a negative keyword for their brand?
What if I own a single word domain, which happens to be a very popular keyword? Could I stop people from bidding on it? I doubt it.
Google probably could allow advertisers to opt into some sort of trademark policy which would not allow others to bid on their brand, but there would still be limitations for many advertisers. Not to mention the the loss in revenue for Google.
Nobody is doing searches on "1 800 contacts". Surfers are doing searches on the indubitably generic term "contacts".
That would be like American Airlines filing a trademark restriction for the world "Airlines". The courts would slap them so silly, they could go into politics.
edit: I don't believe this law will affect anyone anyway. Our computers are only access points, the data we're accesing isn't housed in Utah. read - it doesn't belong to Utah, can't be taxed by Utah and certainly cannot be used to sue out of state individuals for the actions of strangers in their own homes.
Search engines are data centers, the bill doesn't target the people generating the pages with "competitive" ads to begin with.
I hope the search engines retaliate by banning the practice of advertising trademarked terms completely, god forbid someone generate a page with competing products.
Who thinks this stuff up anyway ?
[edited by: JS_Harris at 3:35 am (utc) on Mar. 16, 2009]
btw: i didn't know a private company could publicly sponsor a state bill; some democracy, huh.