Google announced today that it will be offering a service named Google Public DNS, a ‘public domain name resolver.’ I asked the IPC list today whether this was a good, bad or neutral thing from an IP perspective and we all had fun speculating. Here’s a SEO blog discussion of things that could happen.
The Advocate General of the European court of Jsutice has released his opinion in Google France v LVMH, regarding Google’s ability to sell keywords reflecting trademarks, in the EC. The Advocate General’s opinion strongly determines the actual decision of the ECJ. The AG’s view is that the sale of keywords is not per se unlawful From the ECJ press release:
In his Opinion delivered today, Advocate General Poiares Maduro suggests that Google has not committed a trade mark infringement by allowing advertisers to select, in AdWords, keywords corresponding to trade marks. He highlights that the use of the trade marks is limited to the selection of keywords which is internal to AdWords and concerns only Google and the advertisers. When selecting keywords, there is thus no product or service sold to the general public. Such a use cannot therefore be considered as being a use made in relation to goods or services identical or similar to those covered by the trade marks. Similarly, advertisers themselves do not commit a trade mark infringement by selecting in Adwords keywords corresponding to trade marks.
By contrast, the Advocate General finds that Google, by displaying ads in response to keywords corresponding to trade marks, establishes a link between those keywords and the sites advertised which sell products identical or similar to those covered by the trade marks. The very same link is established between keywords which correspond to trade marks, and the sites displayed as natural results.
However, in the view of the Advocate General, such a link also does not constitute a trade mark infringement. In effect, the mere display of relevant sites in response to keywords is not enough to establish a risk of confusion on the part of consumers as to the origin of goods or services. Internet users are aware that not only the site of the trade mark owner will appear as a result of a search in Google’s search engine and sometimes they may not even be looking for that site. These users will only make an assessment as to the origin of the goods or services advertised on the basis of the content of the ad and by visiting the advertised sites; no assessment will be based solely on the fact that the ads are displayed following the entry of keywords corresponding to trade marks.
Soaring Helmet v Bill Me dba Leatherup.com and Google, WD WA June9 2009
SearchEngineLand: “Why Hasn’t Google Cleared, Fired or Suspended Accused AdWords Employee?“:
Google takes plenty of well-publicized heat for things it hasn’t really done or concerns that get hyped. But in the case of one of its AdWords employees being accused of bypassing AdWords policies for his own benefit, I’m surprised the Big G isn’t being dragged over the coals. Over a month after the initial accusations, the person appears to still be fully employed at Google, without Google issuing any public comment about the case.
In early April, Jeremy “ShoeMoney” Schoemaker filed suit against Keyen Farrell — a Google AdWords account coordinator — alleging that Farrell was infringing on his trademark via Google AdWords.
Prof Goldman tallies Utah’s (and 1-800-Contacts) war against keyword advertising (disclosure – I have represented clients who have been adverse to 1-800-Contacts).
Yahoo’s principal argument was that the parties’ lawsuit was governed by its Sponsored Search Agreement, which had a mandatory venue clause requiring litigation in Yahoo’s home court. The district court judge did not respond well to that argument, calling it “completely nonsensical.” The appeals court wasn’t as harsh but still concludes that Yahoo didn’t make the extraordinary showing required to obtain the relief Yahoo sought–even though American Airlines is seeking disgorgement of its payments under the Sponsored Search Agreement as one of the requested remedies.