Lawsuit Battle with Google Over After Six Years
March 5, 2010:
A Case of David versus Googleiath
Six years after commencing its lawsuit against the giant Internet Search Engine Google, the computer repair and support company, Rescuecom, can finally declare victory in its effort to protect how its trademark "Rescuecom" is treated on Google's search engine.
In April 2004, just a few months prior to going public, Google changed its trademark policy to allow (1) anyone who wanted to spend the money to use the well-known trademarks of others as keywords to trigger their own sponsored link advertisements; (2) to use those same trademarks in the text of the sponsored links themselves; and (3) Google started suggesting various trademarks to potential advertisers through its Keyword Suggestion Tool. Among those trademarks that Google suggested was Rescuecom's own mark. Rescuecom was the first trademark owner to directly challenge Google's suggestion of trademarks through its Keyword Suggestion Tool as a separate infringement of trademark rights.
Rescuecom's first victory occurred before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. That landmark case soundly rejected Google's argument that its auction of Rescuecom's trademark to the highest bidder was not a "trademark use" of Rescuecom's trademark. The Second Circuit Court also singled out Google's Keyword Suggestion Tool for special comment, noting that "Google encourages the purchase of Rescuecom's mark through its Keyword Suggestion Tool. Google's utilization of Rescuecom's mark fits literally within the terms specified by 15 U.S.C. § 1127. According to the Complaint, Google uses and sells Rescuecom's mark "in the sale ... of [Google's advertising] services ... rendered in commerce."
Google had changed its policy to disallow the use of trademarks in the text of a sponsored link a few years ago, with certain exceptions. Google has recently confirmed to Rescuecom that it has removed Rescuecom's trademark from its Keyword Suggestion Tool. "We have obtained two of the three things we initially sought in our complaint against Google." Says Rescuecom CEO, David Milman, explaining the computer repair and support company's recent agreement to discontinue the lawsuit.
The last of the three issues, which remains to be resolved another day, is how trademarks may be used as keywords to trigger the sponsored links themselves in a way that does not confuse consumers. Rescuecom has always maintained that the normal and accepted doctrines that both allow and restrict how a business may use the trademark of a competitor should apply on the Internet to the same extent they apply in the physical world. That issue may in fact be resolved in Rescuecom's lawsuit against competitor Best Buy, the owner of the "Geek Squad" mark under which it provides competing computer repair and support services. In that action, Rescuecom seeks declaratory judgment that it may use the term "geek squad" as a keyword for a sponsored link which clearly engages in comparative advertising (a trademark use that has always been acknowledged as a permissible use) and invites computer users to
"Switch to Rescuecom today.
Leave the geeks Call 1(877)376-0169.
Onsite within 1Hour| Online Fix Now."
"There is no way anyone could be confused into thinking we are Geek Squad after reading an advertisement like that." Says David Milman. "The same rules that protect advertising in the brick and mortar world, should continue to apply on the Internet, including protections of comparative advertising."
"We've accomplished most of what we wanted to accomplish with this action against Google." says David Milman. "The Second Circuit's decision clearly rejected Google's argument that its sale of trademarks as keywords deserves some special protection from Trademark Law. Clear and non-confusing use of trademarks on the Internet - such as Rescuecom's own advertising - should be permitted. However, the use of trademarks which is not clear and can confuse consumers, violates U.S. Trademark law and is not in anyone's best interests."
RESCUECOM provides homes and businesses with 24/7 computer repair and support. RESCUECOM meets every tech support need, including data recovery, virus removal, wired and wireless networking and support for all brands of hardware and software. For information on products, services, and computer repair, visit http://www.rescuecom.com or call (703) 986-3233.
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Christina Johnson, PR Specialist
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