Vuitton Bags Win In Google Case

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Selling trademarks to competitors with AdWords may be a practice seeing its end of days at Google, as luxury brand Louis Vuitton declared victory after a French court ruling.

A word of advice to Googleplex denizens: you may wish to keep your Taiga bags at home after today, considering the broadside fired by Louis Vuitton after an appeals court in Paris upheld a District Court’s February 2005 verdict against Google for trademark counterfeiting, unfair competition and advertising, Reuters reported.

Vuitton was furious that Google’s search ads displayed links to sellers of counterfeit Vuitton merchandise alongside legitimate resellers. Google will sell trademarks as keywords to competitors, and allow their use the trademarked term in an AdWords advertisement’s text.

Google’s Trademark Policy places the burden of settling trademark disputes on the advertiser. If Google receives a complaint, it will only investigate whether an ad in question uses the trademark in the ad text.

Vuitton said in a statement the Appeals Court had awarded it 300,000 Euros in damages, an increase from the earlier ruling. The court further granted Vuitton 60,000 Euros in legal expenses in its decision. Lastly, Google has to publish details of the sentence in four magazines at its expense, the report said.

Selling these keywords has been a sore point for other businesses besides Louis Vuitton. Geico and Google settled a case with direct insurance seller Geico in September 2005, while a similar suit filed by Check N Go in February 2006 is still ongoing.

A Google spokesperson quoted in the Reuters report said Google had implemented a policy that bars advertisers from buying “search listings under trademarks held by others.” But the AdWords policy cited earlier appears to contradict that statement, unless “listings” does not mean paid search advertisements for some reason.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Vuitton Bags Win In Google Case
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