RESCUECOM Sues Google Over Trademark Dispute
By Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service:
Trademark owners battle search engines
Google sued over keyword advertising - again
OUT-LAW News, 21/09/2004
Google is facing another trade mark action over its AdWords keyword advertising service, this time from US computer services firm Rescuecom. Google already faces similar lawsuits in France, Germany and the US.
Google's AdWords service allows advertisers to sponsor particular search terms so that, whenever that term is searched, the advertiser's link will appear next to the search results.
Rescuecom accuses Google of allowing and advising rival computer service companies to use its trade marked term in their list of sponsored search terms, with the result, says Rescuecom, that Google users contact and use rival firms who they think are associated with the Syracuse-based franchise.
"It's a shame that Google has to exploit an explicitly trade marked name all for the sake of a few cents per click," said David Milman, CEO of Rescuecom.
"In this way, those companies willing to pay for the most advertising search words can conceivably trample upon and utilise competitors for their own gain ... it's blatant trade mark infringement," he added.
Until recently, said the firm, it had contacted rivals directly to stop the use of the trade mark, but when one competitor wrote back saying that it did not choose its keywords and that Google provided them, Rescuecom decided to sue Google.
The situation has been exacerbated by a policy change in Google's screening program that took place in April this year, said Rescuecom.
Previously the search engine screened for trade marks when advertisers selected keywords for the service; but in April, Google announced that it would no longer pre-screen or remove keywords connected with trade marks. Google said it would only act if a trade marked term was actually used in the text of an advert.
"Google's change in policy has forced us to take legal action against it to protect our trade mark," said Edmund Gegan, lawyer for the franchise. "By hijacking our name for use in advertising search terms, Google is diluting the value of Rescuecom for its own profit and for the benefit of our competitors."
The lawsuit, filed on 6th September, seeks an injunction against the use of the term, an accounting for profits made from use of the term, and damages.
Speaking to the Central New York Business Journal, Google spokesman Steve Langdon commented: "Google's advertising program gives consumers greater access to information, and we believe our trade mark policy complies with the law. We believe this suit is without merit and will defend against it vigorously."
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