Second Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Trademark Infringement Suit Against Google
By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Stephanie Weiner
Rescuecom v. Google
Second Circuit, April 3, 2009, 06-4881-cv
Opinion (hosted by EFF)
On April 3, 2009, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated the District Court for the Northern District of New York’s dismissal of a trademark infringement suit against Google by Rescuecom, Corp., a computer repair firm.
At issue was Google’s AdWords program, which allows advertisers to purchase ads based on the appearance of another (often competing) company’s name in search terms, thus allowing the purchaser’s ads to appear in the search results alongside links to the searched-for company. Also in dispute was Google’s Keyword Suggestion Tool, which recommends potential keywords to advertisers for use in the AdWords program. The key issue was whether Google’s use of Rescuecom’s trademark in both programs constitutes a “use in commerce” under § 1127 of the Lanham Act.
Ars Technica explains that, having distinguished away precedent, the court determined that Google was appropriating trademarked terms. Google’s claim – that it was only using these terms internally as part of its ad-placing algorithm – was dismissed as disingenuous because its Keyword Suggestion Tool was specifically suggesting trademarks to potential ad buyers. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog notes that this may add some clarity to the jumbled law on the use of keywords. (more…)