EU Court Backs Google in AdWords Case

Sep 24, 2009 3:00 PM PST
LUXEMBOURG — An advisor to the European Union's highest court has decided that Google's sale of trademark keywords to advertisers does not infringe EU laws.

The case centered on whether Google has the right to sell brand names for Internet search advertising on AdWords. Google for years has profited from selling advertising alongside Internet search results for certain brands, including adult-oriented offerings.

The European Court of Justice said in a statement this week that Advocate General Poiares Maduro has ruled “that Google has not infringed trademark rights by allowing advertisers to buy keywords corresponding to registered trademarks.”

French luxury brand Louis Vuitton objected to the sale of such advertising on the grounds that its name and reputation were being used by other brands to promote their own sites.

In the opinion, Maduro said that Google didn’t infringe on trademark rights because the mere display of a relevant Internet site on entering a keyword does not in itself constitute trademark infringement, the risk of confusion to the consumer is not great enough and that information relating to the trademark should not be restricted purely to the owner of the trademark.

Google and its AdWords were found by Maduro to be more in keeping with information society services.

The opinion can be accessed here.

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