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Old 08-15-2005   #1
rustybrick
 
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Geico Wins Dispute Over Trademarks In Ad Copy At Google

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/08...rademark_case/

Quote:
A US district court has ruled against Google in a trade mark action over the sale of the terms “Geico” and “Geico Direct” in AdWords, its keyword advertising service. The judge found that there was infringement where the terms were used in the text of sponsored ads.
Quote:
In a ruling issued on Monday, Judge Brinkema ruled that GEICO had “established a likelihood of confusion” and that there had been a breach of the insurance firm’s trade mark rights “solely with regard to those sponsored links that use GEICO's trade marks in their headings or text."
I am so confused...

Didn't Google not allow for the trademark to be placed in the heading or description of the ad? If this is about bidding on the trademark, there is nothing in the article, that I see, that says the judge ruled against that.
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Old 08-15-2005   #2
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I agree it looks like the article writer is confusing the two issues. Perhaps this has to do with when Google was still allowing the use of the name in the ad titles/descriptions? maybe that is what Geico is claiming damages from? If not...this will be an interesting case to keep an eye on. According to this older Click Z article, the practice that Geico wants stopped is the ability to bid on the terms themselves, not the use of them in the text.


Quote:
GEICO had argued that allowing competitor's sponsored links to appear next to search results when a user typed in "GEICO" or "GEICO Direct" was confusing to consumers, and infringed upon GEICO's trademarks, but the judge disagreed. "There is no evidence that that activity alone causes confusion," Brinkema said yesterday.
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Old 08-15-2005   #3
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Thankfully, Gary linked to the opinion and aftering reading the 3rd page...

Quote:
At the conclusion of plaintiff’s evidence, defendant moved
for Judgment as a Matter of Law under Fed. R. Civ. P. 52(c). As
stated in open court, the Court found that GEICO did not produce
sufficient evidence to establish that the mere use by Google of
the GEICO trademark as a search term or keyword, even in the
context of Google’s advertising program, violates either the
Lanham Act or Virginia common law. The Court also found that
GEICO failed to produce sufficient evidence to establish that
advertisements that do not reference GEICO’s trademarks in their
text or headings violate the Lanham Act, even though Google’s
advertising program enables those ads to appear when a user
searches on GEICO’s trademarks. However, the Court did find that
GEICO presented sufficient evidence to survive defendant’s Motion
on the narrow issue of whether advertisements that appear when a
user searches on GEICO’s trademarks and do reference those marks
in their headings or text violate the Lanham Act.
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Old 08-15-2005   #4
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In Australia we've had several cases of similar trademark dispute. I haven't heard of anyone taking Google to court though. Two recent publicised cases involved Sensis - the technology arm of the government-held telco Telstra. Both involved the use of automatic {keyword} insertion of competitor names into titles/descriptions:

BigPond blames Google for ad mixup
http://whirlpool.net.au/article.cfm/1511
Quote:
"Following an investigation, we have been advised by the relevant advertising agency that the appearance of the ads was the result of 'optimisation' - a recently introduced change by Google, which automatically attached the customer's search term as a heading to the advertisement.


Trading Post changes its internet marketing after ACCC investigation
http://www.accc.gov.au/content/index...romItemId/2332
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Old 08-16-2005   #5
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I liked my title better, "Geico Licks Google" or something like that.

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