– The European Union’s highest court ruled on Tuesday that Google (NASD: GOOG) cannot be
held liable for trademark infringement when advertisers choose keywords related
to existing brands on its self-service AdWords online advertising service.
Luxury goods retail group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton sued Google in 2004,
alleging the company was infringing its trademarks by letting other retailers
— including potential counterfeiters — to buy keyword search ads using its
own trademarked brands, such as "Fendi."
The court did say in its
ruling that consumers could well become confused by such keyword ads, but
maintained that such disputes would have to be resolved between advertisers.
The net effect is that Google will not be party to such disputes, but may have to
comply when a trademark owner demands that keyword ads purchased by
third-parties be taken down.
The Wall Street Journal noted that such a dispute
is now brewing between U.K.
flower delivery service Interflora, and Marks & Spencer, which purchased
keyword ads for "Interflora" — to promote its own flower delivery