EU adviser backs Google on adverts

Selling brand names as search terms does not infringe trademark laws, judge says.

    LVMH is concerned Google's online advertising will point consumers to counterfeit goods [GALLO/GETTY]

    Counterfeiting fear

    The court has been asked to tell a French appeals court how to apply EU trademark law to the case, which concern's Google's "Adword's" system that allows advertisers to buy keywords corresponding to registered trademarks.

    The practice ensures the company appears among internet search results when a particular brand is typed in.

    But Maduro said there was no trademark infringement because "the use of the trademarks is limited to the selection of keywords which is internal to AdWords and concerns only Google and the advertisers".

    Google has insisted that the decision about what link to click on comes down to the internet user, not the company.

    But LVMH fears the system will allow counterfeiters to buy keywords and use them to sell fake bags when a user taps the phrase into Google's search engine.

    Maduro warned Google that it could be held liable if brand owners could show that its adverts had damaged their trademarks.

    Google has said it now screens the Adwords system for obvious abuse of trademarks, but maintained that it cannot be held accountable for every instance where
    an advertiser tries to buy a brand name.

    "We believe that selecting a keyword to trigger the display of an ad does not amount to trademark infringement, and that consumers benefit from seeing more relevant information rather than less," Harjinder Obhi, a senior Google lawyer, said. 

    "We also believe that consumers are smart and are not confused when they see a variety of ads displayed in response to their search queries."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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