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Google Gets Another Adwords Trademark Suit

Staff Writer
Published: 2004-08-18

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Metaspinner Media GmbH is filing a suit with the district court in Hamburg, Germany over its trademark "Preispiraten" being used as a Google AdWord.

After issuing a preliminary injunction against Google, the first oral proceedings are scheduled for Tuesday, August 24, 2004. It will address whether Google can use registered trademarks and names for its own advertising and marketing purposes against the explicit will of the trademark owner and without authorization (such as a license, for example) as an AdWord and consequently as a trigger for displaying advertisements. This is what Metaspinner GmbH wants to prevent.

"Advertising third parties and Google in particular should not be able to exploit and siphon off the considerable expenses incurred by the company when building up the brand 'Preispiraten'," said Stefan Maas, Metaspinner Media's attorney. On the one hand third parties use a high ranking with regard to the trademarks used as AdWords. On the other hand, Google itself is reimbursed for the advertising measures. To this extent both benefit solely from the trademark owner's preliminary work.

It is expected that the legal issues will be addressed during the oral proceedings and that this will provide some indication as to the possible outcome of the case.

Similar to the proceedings against the AdWords practice are examples from Luis Vuitton, the Internet travel agency "Bourse des Vols", Rentabiliweb, and insurance group AXA filed in France and American Blind & Wallpaper Factory and Geico filed in the U.S. The marketing strategy of Google AdWords will be subject to legal review in Germany as well. At issue is not a general prohibition of this type of advertising but rather the definition of limits to protect owners of names and trademarks.

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