Office Depot Slaps Staples Over Google Ads

    October 21, 2005

Earlier this month office supply giant Office Depot filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach, Florida, asking for an injunction against rival Staples over trademark infringement, unfair competition, false advertising and deceptive trade practices. All this stemmed from a Google key word ad.

While the points of the suit aren’t anything unusual, the venue they stem from, Internet and key word ads, are. The Internet is still a place that’s been mostly left alone in lawsuits and legality but as it becomes more and more relevant to daily life, that will change.

The jist of the issue, as Wall Street Journal (WSJ) explains, comes down to a subsidiary of Office Depot, Viking Office Products. The company is being shift to the European market by Office Depot. Staples wanted to pick up some of that possible lost traffic and purchased keywords tied to the word “Viking.” Office Depot claimed it misrepresented Office Depot, Viking and the intentions of the companies proceeded to file charges.

This suit could be quite significant because while it won’t define what Google or Yahoo might do but it will define how companies deal with the key word ads and more specifically, what type of tactics they use to grab traffic on the Internet. Whether all these charges stick is unknown, but either way, it could be a major point in the direction of key word advertising.

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.