Google win’s the first battle of the AdWords

October 2009


Google has won an important first victory it it’s battle sell ‘AdWords’ in it’s search engines. Adwords are basically brand names, often registered trade marks, which Google sells to competitors of those brands so their own product would be highlighted when a search is made of the advert – for example if a user entered ‘Rolex’ into the search engine, a competitor watch maker may have purchased the Adword and their own luxury watch would be featured alongside Internet search results for Rolex. Louis Vuitton and others have been fighting such advertising after makers of imitation products “piggybacked on those brands in online searches to attract customers”. Now the Advocate General Poiares Maduro, in his opinion to the European Court of Justice, 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.

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