2005-03-31

American Blind v. Google

John Battelle is reporting that the "court upheld American Blind's rights to continue its case on claims of trademark infringtement, unfair competition, contributory trademark infringement and contributory dilution. The court did, however, grant Google's motion to throw out American Blinds' claims of "tortious interference with prospective business advantage."

Copy of the Motion can be found here.

Jan 28, 2004: American Blind and Wallpaper Factory filed suit against Google in New York federal court claiming that Google's practice of selling text ads related to keyword search terms takes advantage of American Blind's trademarks, given that competitors' ads can appear on results pages turned up by searches for "American wallpaper" and "American blind."

This lawsuit comes almost two months after Google filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., asking the court to rule on whether its keyword-advertising policy is legal. Google indicated that it would block advertisers from buying keywords which directly infringe American Blind's trademarks, but not descriptive or generic phrases such as american blind.

That lawsuit came on the heels of the settlement between Playboy and Netscape that failed to resolve such issues and is related to the action currently ongoing in Virginia between geico and google. [related: 1-800-Contacts v. WhenU]

April 13, 2004: Google plans trademark gambit: "Google plans to stop limiting sales of trademarks in its popular keyword advertising program, a high-stakes gamble that could boost revenue but also create new legal problems for the company." [related: Growing Number of Lawsuits Could Hurt Google's Ad Revenue]

Apr 23, 2004: WSJ: The fight is about companies' rights to create and protect their brands, says David A. Rammelt, an attorney representing American Blind & Wallpaper Factory Inc., which is suing Google for letting advertisers bid on keywords related to its trademark. "Can competitors step in and all of a sudden intercept consumers?" "That's bad for consumers." "We'll have to persuade a court that consumers are confused when these Web sites results appear."

see also: Diverting Traffic on the Web: trademarks and the first amendment

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