Google Keyword Trademark Violation Case To Proceed
Edina Realty sued real estate company TheMLSonline.com. This company has been accused of false advertising, violation of trademark rules and trademark infusion. According to the suit, MLS used "Edina Realty" in search terms purchased on Google and Yahoo, in the text of the MLS ads that appeared on the two search sites and in hidden links and text on the MLS Web site.
According to a ruling issued last week by the U.S. District Court in Minnesota the evidence of actual trademark dilution has not been provided in the cast. However, the case could go to trial because there were disputes on material facts with regard to whether the use of the trademark was causing confusion among consumers.
Eric Goldman, assistant professor of law at Marquette University Law School said "This case offers the first solid data point (in the U.S.) that buying competitors' trademarks as keywords…could constitute trademark infringement." Eric further added, "This ruling puts increased pressure on Google’s policy not to block competitor keyword ad purchases. Now that Yahoo blocks these purchases, Google effectively stands alone in the industry, so it lacks any cover provided by prevailing industry standards. More importantly, Google's position has just become legally riskier. To the extent that competitors' ad purchases constitute direct trademark infringement, Google may face an elevated risk of being deemed a contributory infringer."
By suing for violation of trademark rules and trademark dilution, Edina Realty has become the first to file such a case.
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