Google Gets Good News From EU Court Advisor

    September 22, 2009

An advisor to the European Court of Justice said Tuesday that Google does not violate luxury goods makers’ trademarks by allowing advertisers to buy keywords related to brand names.

In his opinion, Advocate General Poiares Maduro suggests "Google has not committed a trade mark infringement by allowing advertisers to select, in AdWords, keywords corresponding to trademarks."

Poiares Maduro, Advocate General
Poiares Maduro
Advocate General

Maduro said in his opinion the selection of keywords 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 trademarks," he said.

Google could be held liable if it hosts content related to trademark infringement, but trademark owners would have to  "point to specific instances giving rise to Google’s liability in the context of illegal damage to their trademarks."

Maduro’s recommendation is not binding on the court, but legal advisor opinions are followed by the court in about 80 percent of cases.