By Sharona Hakimi
EU Court Advisor Supports Google Keyword Searches in Trademark Suit
On September 22, Reuters reported that an advocate general to the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court, stated that Google did not infringe trademark rights of luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton (LVMH). Google sells keywords that use the company’s trademarks, but Advocate General Poiares Maduro concluded that trademark protections do not extend to search advertising keywords because they are not considered a product sold to the public. ZDNet’s Richard Koman argues that this decision does not account for brand confusion arising from keyword searches, and demonstrates the court’s “misunderstanding of the Web as something tangential to ‘real’ commerce.” Although the Luxembourg-based court follows the opinions of its advocates general in most cases, the judges will give their final judgment at a later date.
Facebook Shuts Down Beacon Ad Software as Part of Lawsuit Settlement
Ars Technica reports that on September 18, Facebook announced it will shut down its controversial Beacon ad software as part of a settlement for a class-action privacy suit. The Beacon software, launched in November 2007, allowed off-Facebook activities to be published in users’ news feeds without their explicit consent. After over a year of legal disputes regarding the software, Facebook decided to settle with complaining users, agreeing to discontinue Beacon and offering $9.5 million to create a foundation that would “fund projects and initiatives that promote the cause of online privacy, safety, and security.” Facebook’s director of policy communications said that the company has “learned a great deal from the experience.” The settlement proposal still awaits a district court judge’s approval.
FCC Proposes Net Neutrality Rules for Internet Service Providers
The New York Times reports that on September 12, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission proposed new regulations regarding net neutrality for Internet service providers. The proposal would bar providers from blocking or slowing Internet traffic on the basis of content. Consumer advocates of the policy say networks should not be able to deter users from accessing lawful Internet content or applications by restricting bandwidth. Wired’s Dylan Tweeny warns that the proposed rules may be difficult to enforce, stifle overall service due to capacity limitations, and decrease innovation in a market that has flourished without government intervention. The rules will formally be proposed in an open FCC meeting in October.