Google victory is a “blow for brands”

European lawmakers have cleared the way for advertisers to buy search keywords trademarked by rivals.

Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton

The European Court of Justice has ruled in favour of Google following a trademark dispute with luxury brand Louis Vuitton Moet & Chandon (LVMC).

The ruling found that: “Google has not infringed trademark law by allowing advertisers to purchase keywords corresponding to their competitors’ trademarks.”

The luxury firm had claimed that Google’s AdWords service breached European trademark law by allowing rival advertisers to bid for and purchase trademarked keywords. It is said that the practice undermines brands as internet users searching for trademarked brands such as Louis Vuitton would also see ads for rival and counterfeit goods pop up.

LVMC owns luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Moet & Chandon and Dior perfume brands.

Fiona McBride, trademark attorney at Withers & Rogers LLP, says the ruling is “a blow for brand owners and a victory for Google and provides much-needed legislative guidance for brand owners and marketers about what is permissible when it comes to use of third party trade marks in online advertising.”

The ruling also states that the use of third party trademarks as keywords by users of Google’s Adwords service constitutes an infringement of the brand owner’s trademark rights if the ad causes confusion over the origin of the goods.

In a blog post for Google, intellectual property lawyer Dr Harjinder S Obhi, says: “This case is not about us arguing for a right to advertise counterfeit goods. We have strict policies that forbid the advertising of counterfeit goods.”

He adds that the ruling is important because it “is a fundamental principle behind the free flow of information over the internet.”

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