Google’s sale of ‘trademarked’ keywords does not infringe in EU

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the sale of ‘trademarked’ terms by Google as keyword triggers of advertising:

From IPKat reports. According to the IPKat, the rulings themselves:

1. Article 5(1)(a) of First Council Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks and Article 9(1)(a) of Council Regulation (EC) No 40/94 of 20 December 1993 on the Community trade mark must be interpreted as meaning that the proprietor of a trade mark is entitled to prohibit an advertiser from advertising, on the basis of a keyword identical with that trade mark which that advertiser has, without the consent of the proprietor, selected in connection with an internet referencing service, goods or services identical with those for which that mark is registered, in the case where that advertisement does not enable an average internet user, or enables that user only with difficulty, to ascertain whether the goods or services referred to therein originate from the proprietor of the trade mark or an undertaking economically connected to it or, on the contrary, originate from a third party.
2. An internet referencing service provider which stores, as a keyword, a sign identical with a trade mark and organises the display of advertisements on the basis of that keyword does not use that sign within the meaning of Article 5(1) and (2) of Directive 89/104 or of Article 9(1) of Regulation No 40/94.
3. Article 14 of Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (‘Directive on electronic commerce’) must be interpreted as meaning that the rule laid down therein applies to an internet referencing service provider in the case where that service provider has not played an active role of such a kind as to give it knowledge of, or control over, the data stored. If it has not played such a role, that service provider cannot be held liable for the data which it has stored at the request of an advertiser, unless, having obtained knowledge of the unlawful nature of those data or of that advertiser’s activities, it failed to act expeditiously to remove or to disable access to the data concerned.

IPKat threatens more detailed consideration in a later post.

Prof. Goldman provides a thoughtful analysis from a US perspective here.

Google’s trade mark policy

Yesterday (in the USA) Google’s new trade mark policy and complaint procedure came into force.

All the details here.

Australia is still in the regions where both text and keywords are monitored.

Lid dip @TrademarkBlog (aka Marty Schwimmer)

Google’s sale of keywords could be trade mark use

Well, strictly speaking, the 2nd Circuit in the USA has held that Google’s sale of keywords may be use in commerce.

Rescuecom had sued Google for trademark infringement by selling advertisements (sponsored links) triggered by Rescuecom’s trademark. The District Court had dismissed the claim on the grounds that Google’s conduct was not use in commerce. So now it goes back to the District Court.

Of course, Google’s conduct, if were done in Australia or transacted with a business located in Australia, would be in trade or commerce for the purposes of the Trade Practices Act. In context, however, the nearest analogue under our law is whether or not the conduct might be “use as a trade mark” (in the sense of using the sign in the course of trade) for the purposes of s 120 of the Trade Marks Act.

Professor Goldman considers the ramifications under US law (and the distinguishing of WhenU) here.

Adwords and Keywords

Prof. Gans over at CoreEcon takes issue with Eric Clemons’ paper in which Prof. Clemons appears to be arguing that Google’s business model – using sponsored links and paid advertising triggered by keywords and the like – is based on misdirection.

Now, if Prof. Clemons were right, that could be a reason for contending that the use of trade marks in keywords etc. is (at least) misleading or deceptive conduct. But, as noted, Prof. Gans puts a very big question mark over this.

Now, neither of the Professors is dealing with the legal arguments, but I do wonder why people would click on (keep clicking on) Google’s sponsored links on the scale which they apparently do if the sponsored links etc. were in fact misdirecting them.

Whatever happened to the case which the ACCC brought against Google here? 

IPKat overlooks the work in progress in the EU here.