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BizReport : Advertising archives : March 25, 2010

Louis Vuitton's case against Google goes to hell in a posh handbag

Google's practice of selling brand-name keywords to competitors doesn't violate trademark law ruled the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg yesterday.

by Helen Leggatt

Several trademark owners, led by Louis Vuitton's luxury parent company LVMH, have lost their case against Google. The 29-page ruling allows AdWords advertisers to use brand-name keywords.

However, there are restrictions. Guidelines have been set out to ensure that brand-name keywords are not associated with businesses promoting counterfeit products. This could leave Google, and AdWords advertisers, with a financial and legal headache.

"While these rulings improve Google's legal position against trademark owners, the news isn't uniformly good for the keyword advertising industry," writes Eric Goldman, an Associate Professor of Law at Santa Clara University School of Law, on his blog. "The opinion identifies a number of potential legal pitfalls for keyword advertisers."

As a result, Google may witness a loss of revenue due to advertisers being concerned about their legal exposure.

At the same time, brand owners could find themselves paying over the odds for their own brand-name keywords as they compete with other advertisers.

The ruling can be read in its entirely here (.pdf).

Tags: AdWords, Google, keywords, Louis Vuitton, trademark

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