American Airlines Jets Google To Court
The whole keyword-advertising-violates-our-trademark debate has been brought to court more than once and more than once has been unsuccessful. American Airlines, though, is perhaps the largest company to make the claim, filing a trademark violation suit against Google.
|American Airlines Jets Google To Court|
American isn’t thrilled that competitors and travel sites can bid on its company name as a keyword. Though the competitor-keyword argument has been made before, this may be a first where the plaintiff cites online retailers selling competitor wares.
It would appear, if the suit were successful, Coke could sue television stations advertising that 7-11 sells Pepsi too.
American complains that competitor keyword bidding and the ad display associated with the keywords are tantamount to getting a "free ride on American Airlines’ brands through use of Google’s technology," and that Google is guilty of "vicarious trademark infringement."
In the 55-page complaint, American asserts that "Google’s ‘Sponsored Links’ may instead redirect [searchers] to: (i) websites of airlines that compete with American Airlines; (ii) websites that sell air travel not only on American Airlines, but also on a variety of airlines that compete with American Airlines; or (iii) websites that are entirely unrelated air travel."
It may be the second argument that’s disturbing to many. Technology and Law Blog’s Eric Goldman is also skeptical:
…my working theory is that this was not a good lawsuit for American Airlines to bring. I’ve noted many times before that lawsuits over consumer "diversion" often cost more than the lost profits from the allegedly diverted consumers.