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AXA sues Google over AdWords

CmdrTaco posted more than 10 years ago | from the this-will-only-get-worse dept.

The Almighty Buck 366

Da Fokka writes "Insurance company AXA is suing Google in a french court because a search for 'AXA' results in links to their competitors. A similar claim was initially awarded but successfully appealed by Google. If this claim is successful, this could be quite a setback for Google's business model."

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366 comments

Seems they may loose this one (4, Insightful)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 10 years ago | (#8982963)

The last appeal (better described in an alternate story [weblogsinc.com] ) was overturned because all of the words involved were dictionary words, and that it was unrealistic to expect a trademark search for every AdWords sale.

However, there is no doubt that AXA isn't found in most dictionaries, certainly not English or French - so it would seem they actually have a good chance of loosing this lawsuit.

Re:Seems they may loose this one (5, Informative)

cygnusx (193092) | more than 10 years ago | (#8982997)

The other word they're suing for is "direct insurance" - according to this slightly more informative story from AP [theage.com.au] out on the wires now.

What really bugs me is that AXA did not pay Google to be listed. AXA can easily deny, via robots.txt, google's ability to visit their site. AXA is getting tons of free publicity via exposure on google. What right does it have to deny clearly demarcated ads on the very same site?

Re:Seems they may loose this one (4, Informative)

cygnusx (193092) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983053)

Oops, that was direct assurance, not insurance.

Re:Seems they may loose this one (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983098)

We will forgive you. This whole thread should be called lose, not loose. The article in the summary used "hailed" when they clearly meant "hauled", and the +5 Insightful link says "Backlast" instead of "Backlash". TWICE.

Re:Seems they may loose this one (2, Interesting)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983130)

Read your link - did the search. Found it quite interesting - certainly more complete.

Since the story you link mentions both terms though, "AXA" as well as "Direct Assurance" - I think it's still a decent chance they'll loose on the basis of AXA not being a word (except in the Ebonics sense as pointed out [slashdot.org] below).

Re:Seems they may loose this one (3, Insightful)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983278)

Well, I typed "AXA" into Google and the first ten items were all related to AXA Insurance and the only ad was for a financial company's web page discussing AXA.
Unless there has been a quick change by Google, my opinion is that AXA is FoS!
Having the words "insurance" or "assurance" anywhere in one's search should trigger any insurance companies ads.

Re:Seems they may loose this one (4, Informative)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983325)

Yes, there has been a quick change by Google. However, I don't believe that the US google service was in question.

Adwords is different for each [google.com] region [google.fr] .

Re:Seems they may loose this one (3, Informative)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983425)

Thanks!
I actually did the original search fron google.ca.
I just tried it fron google.fr and, again, all the top ten are AXA Insurance sites (including the Canadian one, which I didn't notice in the .ca search :^). There were no ads, so I guess you are correct that they (Goggle) dropped them.

Re:Seems they may loose this one (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983022)

axa is found in Ebonics dictionaries. Using it in context - "lemme axa question, dawg."

BWAHAHAHA ROFLOLOLOL @ YUO (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983127)

Re:Seems they may loose this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983028)

trademark ... dictionary .. blah blah blah

We all know the real reason they'd lose this lawsuit.

And btw, judges dont seem to believe in freedom and liberty anymore either.

Re:Seems they may loose this one (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983147)

You can't spell for shit man. Its lose not loose.

Loosing, to set free.

Losing, the opposite of winning.

Loser.

Re:Seems they may loose this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983391)

Oh, yeah - then why ddin't you corect the speling in the subect line?

You'er the looser

Re:Seems they may loose this one (2, Interesting)

Otter (3800) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983161)

The last appeal (better described in an alternate story [weblogsinc.com] ) was overturned because all of the words involved were dictionary words, and that it was unrealistic to expect a trademark search for every AdWords sale.

I have no idea what French or EU law might add to this issue, but from the way trademark law generally works -- what is illegal about allowing people to type a trademark into a field and showing them ads based on that? I don't see how there's any infringement. Trademarks aren't magic words that must not be uttered without permission.

However, there is no doubt that AXA isn't found in most dictionaries, certainly not English or French...

It's probably in the Scrabble dictionary, though, which is why I hate Scrabble.

Re:Seems they may loose this one (1)

Lust (14189) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983197)

Although there ARE other things that "AXA" stands for as seen here [acronymfinder.com]

Re:Seems they may loose this one (1)

nate1138 (325593) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983211)

I'm not so sure. Didn't Gator win a case where they were serving up pop-up ads for competitors of certain web sites when they were visited?

Obvious question.. (5, Interesting)

ImTwoSlick (723185) | more than 10 years ago | (#8982988)

Why can't they just sue the company who's purchasing the ad, instead of suing Google?

Re:Obvious question.. (1)

noelmarkham (714160) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983050)

Because AXA are paying Google, so that when someone searches for 'AXA', they get a (sponsored) link to their site. However, Google will also give other sponsored links in context to what was searched for... in this case being insurance, so it shows competitors.

Re:Obvious question.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983267)

Because AXA are paying Google

No, they aren't, actually.

Re:Obvious question.. (1)

noelmarkham (714160) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983301)

Yes, you're right... I thought that they were on the sponsored links on the right hand side too. Apologies!

Re:Obvious question.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983072)

Give them a break, clearly they only have the resources for one high-profile frivolous lawsuit at a time.

Re:Obvious question.. (4, Interesting)

defile (1059) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983106)

Why can't they just sue the company who's purchasing the ad, instead of suing Google?

This is a common problem, and I'm sure the source of most of Google's legal threats.

Once Google is informed that an AdWord violates a trademark (or whatever), they become liable to prosecution. The way Google usually responds is by immediately pulling the ad.

I can't imagine why Google wouldn't pull the ad, the money they make on them can't be worth the legal battle.

Also, Google has deep pockets, and there are plenty of litigious assholes out there...

You mean (1)

EachLennyAPenny (731871) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983379)

Also, Google has deep pockets, and there are plenty of litigious assholes out there...

You mean like those assholes who would defeat Microsoft purchasing "Linux" AdWords?

Re:Obvious question.. (1)

steveb964 (727054) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983134)

Perhaps *someone* is backing this lawsuit to shake up google's supposed imminent IPO, to make investors weary. I can think of a couple of other search brands that would love to cause problems for google. Just my opinion.

Leave it to a French Court (2, Insightful)

stecoop (759508) | more than 10 years ago | (#8982991)

Even in sue happy America this case would be dismissed. It's like suing a library because I went to look for say McDonalds and found that Burger King also sells hamburgers. McDonalds is mad wanting to bundle library with a default configuration whereby McDonald's information is installed in the library and cannot be removed once installed nor can it be collocated with other Hamburger joints. Now that McDonalds has the market captured it can now be the dominate player in the hamburger field (reminiscent of a browser pun everyone). So now that McDonalds has the default configuration of libraries setup, McDonalds can now expand to, say, French Fires - you now must eat vegetable fried fries with fake beef flavoring [cnn.com] . Did this court also award any damages from Amazons one click shopping scheme [gnu.org] ? This is crazy I'll stop now...

Re:Leave it to a French Court (5, Insightful)

Brento (26177) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983031)

It's like suing a library because I went to look for say McDonalds and found that Burger King also sells hamburgers.

A better analogy is that you opened the phone book's white pages to look up McDonald's, and saw a Burger King ad right next to the McDonald's listing.

In the Yellow Pages, a commercial directory, you clearly expect to find businesses advertised by category. In the White Pages, customers are listed by name instead. AXA is trying to say that Google should limit itself to being a white pages index of the web, which is rubbish.

Re:Leave it to a French Court (5, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983102)

That's exactly what the "yellow pages" are for. And AdWords is a lot like the yellow pages in that they show you businesses related to what you're searching for.

AXA should be suing their competitor, not Google. What their competitor did is tantamount to hanging an advertisement for their business under AXA's streetside sign.

Better analogy yet (3, Insightful)

ThinWhiteDuke (464916) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983363)

A better analogy is that you opened the phone book's white pages to look up McDonald's, and saw a Burger King ad right next to the McDonald's listing.

I've RTFA but frankly, there's not much information in there. Still, I guess that the reason why Axa sued is that the ad links mentioned the brand name "AXA". So maybe the proper analogy would be that you opened the white pages to look for McDonald's and see an ad for "McDonald's something" with the address and phone# of a BK.

Still not sure that this would justify a lawsuit but at least it's not that clear-cut.

Re:Leave it to a French Court (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983043)

What is it with this place and analogies that make no goddamn sense? Just speak plainly, for chrissakes.

Yellow pages are legal now also (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8982996)

I think it great to learn about similar companies it help the consumer out.

Why not sue... (1)

thetorpedodog (750359) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983001)

everybody on the results page, for causing Google to list them first? Here's hoping they don't sue Slashdot since one of those results might point here soon! *l*

Ok smartypants.. (2, Funny)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983003)

I think the lawyers responsible for such litigation should be required by the judge to supply (for free to the public) a list of every trademarked word... and keep it updated in perpetuity, oh.. and have their fingernails pulled off for being such a pest.

Re:Ok smartypants.. (2, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983051)

Why not just use the USPTO's database [uspto.gov] ?

Re:Ok smartypants.. (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983148)

That would only include trademarks held in the US, not France.

Re:Ok smartypants.. (1)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983282)

USPTO only deals with trademarks registered in the US. French court, French rules (and French fries).

There are over 200 countries, and each of them have an office of trademarks. Google has servers in ~50 of these countries - but Adwords is different for each [google.com] region [google.fr] .

I'm a Republican! (A poem) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983005)

Oh, I'm a Republican
I got a small schling
I like to bomb niggahs
and make a lot o' bling

I got a bunch o' friends
in high up places
They helps me get dem
government graces.

You think I'm smart
I just know who's who
I couldn't run a fruit stand
without the red white & blue

I fancy myself
A brilliant tactician
But neither me nor m'buddies
Could even pass basic trainin'

See, I'm above all that
A fightin' and shootin'
I just say "Sic em!"
Then run the other direction

Don't need no history
Don't need no schoolin'
I got my ideology
To keep me a shootin'

If I get caught screwin'
Or tellin' wicked lies
"Hypocrisy!" I holler
And that justifies the crimes

Liberals! Faggots!
Commies and queers!
Socialist hippies
Full o' pussy tears!

I'll drop some crap
about Jesus the Christ
You'll buy it all
and vote for me twice

'Fact, Jesus is comin'!
Real soon, now!
So we gotta prop up Israel
That ol' sacred cow

Propaganda's m'friend
But I calls it "fact"
Even though I don't read
'Cept for Chick tracts

Facts? No! Don't need em here!
We're conservatives! We work on FEAR!
Don't like what we say?
Well FUCK YOU, bud!
We'll shove it down yer throat
and tell ya it's good!

Re:I'm a Republican! (A poem) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983269)

That's great!

Excellent prose.

Have a cigar!

Thats not even good. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983319)

You suck. A lot. Have your friends told you this? do you have friends? What year are you from 1865? So horrible. The horror, the horror of your poem, not for its political content(which is not the far from the truth), but its god aweful attempts at hummor and wit. Don't quit your day job, and please don't post here anymore.

The proper term is.... (5, Funny)

wpiman (739077) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983006)

"Freedom" court. Please use the language that our lofty senators appointed for us.

Re:The proper term is.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983149)

Frog. Frog court

Re:The proper term is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983256)

How about weasely, duplicitous, back-stabbing, conniving, mercenary, opportunistic court?

Adwords... (0, Funny)

harrouet (657486) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983009)

Orgie, porn, pamela, tits, AXA, britney, ...

I don't like this precedent... (5, Interesting)

ThogScully (589935) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983010)

If search engines become responsible for the accuracy of their searches, then that's going to become risky business, especially when everyone's always just a little lower in the rankings than they'd like to be.

Worse for Google is that an insurance company is going to have lots of money and can easily afford to mount a very strong case against them. Hopefully, Google will have some luck, but it sounds like the similar case won't stand to help them much.
-N

Re:I don't like this precedent... (1)

djaj (704060) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983118)

Except that this case has nothing to do with the accuracy of searches. This is about the paid advertisement listings that show up on the side of the page.

Responsibility? (4, Interesting)

slycer9 (264565) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983014)

I'm trying to figure out how a court can actually hold Google RESPONSIBLE for advertisement for a business entity.

Google's primary purpose is INFORMATION, not the aforementioned advertisement.

If I'm looking for something to purchase, I'm generally more concerned with price & availability than who I buy FROM. It's in this area that Google shines, offering a plethora of various places to buy/rent from.

I would think this is an excellent opportunity for Google to make the distinction between their ACTUAL business plan and their PERCIEVED business plan.

Think about it, just because you've coined some obscure acronym for yourself or your business, does that mean it's Google's responsibility to insure that people find you during their search? Wow, nice way to shrink that ad budget.

Re:Responsibility? (5, Informative)

YouTalkinToMe (559217) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983141)

I think you've got this wrong. They are suing because Google is selling their name as an Adword, not that their competitor comes up in the search portion of the page. It seems like there could be a good case that the competitor (and Google) is making money by trading on their good name. I'm not saying that I agree, but I don't think it is an open-and-shut case, especially when the name isn't a common english or french word.

Re:Responsibility? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983151)

> I'm trying to figure out how a court can actually hold Google RESPONSIBLE for
> advertisement for a business entity.
> Google's primary purpose is INFORMATION, not the aforementioned advertisement.

It's illegal to display Nazi swastikas in Germany. So Google is responsible for ensuring they don't turn up in, say, Google Image searches. This is just an extension of that. I don't agree with either restriction - if the AXA thing turns out to be judged against Google - but both are hardly a threat to their `business model` - they'll just need a list of words to block.

If I were Google and I lost the case, I'd ensure Google *never* returned any hits to that company, on both web and Usenet searches.

Re:Responsibility? (2, Informative)

samurairas (666175) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983212)

Google's primary purpose is information? I don't think so.

Google is a business, and that means that it's primary purpose is to make money so that the business can continue to exist.The fact that Google provides very accurate search results is what makes it so attractive to advertisers.

Their "actual" business plan is to make a ton of money. Period.

Re:Responsibility? (4, Insightful)

mccalli (323026) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983244)

Google's primary purpose is INFORMATION, not the aforementioned advertisement.

Absolutely not. Google is a profit-seeking company, and as a commercial entity Google's primary purpose is the advert, not the information. The information is the lure to get you to see the advert.

Cheers,
Ian

Re:Responsibility? (2, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983263)

"If I'm looking for something to purchase, I'm generally more concerned with price & availability than who I buy FROM. It's in this area that Google shines, offering a plethora of various places to buy/rent from."

But this isn't about people searching for "insurance", with links to a variety of insurance companies' websites being returned.

This is about people searching for "AXA", a specific insurance company, with links to a variety of insurance companies' websites being returned.

"just because you've coined some obscure acronym for yourself or your business, does that mean it's Google's responsibility to insure that people find you during their search?"

Isn't the point of a search engine to accurately return the information that people are searching for? If a user searches for "AXA" using Google, and instead has a bunch of other insurance companies returned, at best I'd say Google's search engine needs a little work.

This reminds me... (4, Informative)

TexasDex (709519) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983016)

of people trying to sue Google for trashing their pagerank after they subscribed to a link farm.

Nothing good can come of this sort of lawsuit. Google and other search engines should be free to have their results the way the Internet says.

The Scientology nuts are complaining that a search for "scientology" also results in anti-scientology sites. Should they be awarded damages too?

I don't think so.

Re:This reminds me... (2, Insightful)

StrongAxe (713301) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983286)

The Scientology nuts are complaining that a search for "scientology" also results in anti-scientology sites. Should they be awarded damages too?

I don't think so.


True. However, if somebody paid Google to put an anti-Scientology site higher up on the list, this is no longer a matter of neutral search results, but a wilful use of a trademarked name. This isn't about searching, but about commercial profit out of someone else's trademark.

Re:This reminds me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983440)

of people trying to sue Google for trashing their pagerank after they subscribed to a link farm.

Nothing good can come of this sort of lawsuit. Google and other search engines should be free to have their results the way the Internet says.

The Scientology nuts are complaining that a search for "scientology" also results in anti-scientology sites. Should they be awarded damages too?

I don't think so.


This is about paid advertising, not search results (as many seem to be stretching it to encompass).

If you search for scientology on google you will not get any AdWords that link to anti-scientology sites, btw. Just search results.

International law vs. culture (1, Interesting)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983029)

The biggest problem I see with international law is the conflict between established systems. Political animosity between two nations involved can only make it worse.

Basis of the Suit (4, Informative)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983034)

They said that Google is diluting the copyright because customers might mistaken the adverstised services as being associated with AXA. (Yes, it's in an ad box and labeled as such, but that makes sense and has no place in the law.) People have sued pop-ups on the same grounds; an ad that popped up upon a visit to a website might seem connected to that website even though it is not. Therefore, this claim is not stupid outright but in this case it seems a little weak.

Re:Basis of the Suit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983095)

Yes, this claim is stupid outright.
It is not Google's responsibility to organize website information to that deail. If AXA wants their site name out there, they should advertise, and not try to make Google give them a free ride.

Re:Basis of the Suit (1)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983142)

If the ads are confusingly similar to the trademark then the party to blame should be the people who drafted the ad, but not Google. On the other hand, if the ads do not cause confusion then AdWords for competing products should be regarded as a legitimate form of advertising, like a company placing a big ad in a phonebook page that also contains his competitor's phone number.

Re:Basis of the Suit (1)

arkanes (521690) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983292)

In the US, you're allowed to use trademarks when you're referring to a specific company or product, so it's perfectly legal to use a competitors brand in your ads if you're directly comparing yourself to them. I can't speak to what ads they're talking about (on plain old Google.com, the ads I come up with are for meta-services offering market information and such - I don't know exactly what AXA does but if they're an insurance company I don't think any of these guys compete), but as long as the ad itself doesn't present itself as being AXA, I don't see the problem. It's certainly not Googles problem - this is a pretty clear case where public interest is preserved by tightening the scope of trademarks, rather than broadening it.

Update: there's no ads at all for AXA on google.fr. Anyone know what actual ads these guys are bitching about?

Linux sues MSN Search..... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983035)

http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/08/24/202821 6&mode=thread

"If this claim is successful, this could be quite a setback for Microsoft's business model."

Nice consistent unbiased reporting there, guys. :)

Re:Linux sues MSN Search..... (0, Offtopic)

Spiked_Three (626260) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983368)

and no one mods this as insightful. but you are dead on!

Next up... (5, Funny)

tooloftheoligarchy (557158) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983041)

"Search engine company Google is suing themselves"

"If you Google on 'A9', you get a listing for one of our competitors," said a company spokesperson. "It's an outrage!"

Re:Next up... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983374)

reading peoples' analogies for searching one thing and finding a competitor, I decided to google "search engine"

turns out alta vista is hit #1, and google is lowly #5

google should file suit against google immediately

what about the yellow pages (5, Insightful)

i88i (720935) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983046)

when i go through the big phat yellow pages directory, looking for the "Blud E. Good Plumbing" phone number, i am subjected to other adverts of rival plumbing services. The Yellow pages are profiting from this, so why shouldn't google?

Re:what about the yellow pages (2, Insightful)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983422)

This is the first time that I've seen a good analogy on Slashdot. I think Google should hire you for the legal team.

It's better than the Wookie Defense.

If google loses in court (2, Interesting)

phats garage (760661) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983048)

they should refuse to index AXA _at all_.

Thats what I'd do.

Re:If google loses in court (3, Insightful)

eclectro (227083) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983136)

If google loses in court they should refuse to index AXA _at all

Why wait until they lose? yank their cord now and give them a sense of reality.

Who says google has to list anybody?

Re:If google loses in court (1)

zokrath (593920) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983300)


Did you mean: [insert AXA's top competitor]?

Your search - AXA - did not match any documents.
No pages were found containing "AXA".



If AXA doesn't show up on google at all, obviously it cannot be confused with a competitor.

Aside form websites that contain or link to illegal content, google should be able to do whatever it wants regarding page rank, advertisements, and anything else. Unless a company is paying them money, they owe that company nothing. If the sponsered links are off to the side and labeled, the opportunity for confusion is slim when dealing with anyone of average intellect.

But then, everything of course needs to be designed with the most moronic fool in mind, no matter how much it inconveniences the rest of us...

Ban 'em! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983065)

If I was responsible for google, I'd just ban the keyword AXA so nobody can find anything to do with AXA on the search engine at all.

AXA is expecting a search engine to market it's name, only if it has a monopoly on the results. Nobody wants to use a search engine which supplies results based on who has the biggest advertising budget, rather who has the more relevant content for the respective search.

Google should settle this by removing all AXA keywords and URLs, and to show the rest of the world they cannot be bullied into monopolistic advertising.

Re:Ban 'em! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983184)

I agree. Refund their monies and ban their ass.

Bah, this is nuts. (5, Interesting)

mopslik (688435) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983067)

A quick search for 'Linux' [google.ca] brings up the following #1 sponsored link:

Linux News
Why is Windows cheaper than Linux?
Get all the facts Now!
www.microsoft.ca/getthefacts

So can Linus sue now? Seriously, I hope the courts don't rule against Google. It's not like the nasty ads that were being placed over other ads on company websites, it's just a sponsored link.

Re:Bah, this is nuts. (1)

imr (106517) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983193)

Well, he would have to sue in a french court to obtain the same effect, but isnt it what microsoft did to lindows when the trial didnt turn out as they expected in the usa? To sue them in european courts?

Re:Bah, this is nuts. (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983401)

I'm sure that Linus could ask Google to remove that link at any point for misusing his trademark on Linux.

Quite clearly Microsoft must have set up a Google adword that looks for "Linux" in a search.

This is the only problem. AXA should have asked Google to remove the offending adword for infringing on their trademark, and that would have been that. Unless Google declined of course, in which case AXA have no choice but to sue if they wish to keep their trademark. Google really should have consulted their lawyers about this issue.

I haven't used Adwords in a while, I don't know if Google's terms and conditions limit what advertisers can use for adword searches.

Better yet (1)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983068)

Alternately, why not just make it obvious by adding "non-competitive" to the adwords section.. so all these bozo's will click it, and have results filtered so that no other adwords competition shows for the highest setting.. while those who click "competitive" will show up as the action is designed to be... course everyone will search in "competative mode only".. ALSO, why not just make google a social club (free membership, click wrap), then you can just tell them its private and they should go away.

Re:Better yet (1)

Brando_Calrisean (755640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983111)

Because that would devalue the adspace :)

isn't it perfectly legal.. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983081)

Isn't it perfectly legal to say that you don't want to do business with someone because of moral/other objections?

What happens if google just removed any and all references to AXA on the web?

They could damage any global corp, and destroy any web business that wasn't already a name (amazon).

This is their scary power, scary power indeed.

You've got to purchase baby! (1)

earthstar (748263) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983088)

What They are saying is that their competitors ads / links shouldnt be displayed,But its akin to television..The tv channel could give a particular product a coverage :if the competitor doesnt want to lose out, he may place in that very same program.Thats the way to go.Not sue like this ,quite childlishly.

Country oriented (2, Interesting)

mcbridematt (544099) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983107)

In the forced localized version of Google here in Australia, all I see is a) AXA official web sites b) An ad for a local mortgage firm. No compeditors. Obviously the validility of this lawsuit varies from country to country.

In the interests of full disclosure: I am an AXA Australia shareholder.

I searched on Google... (3, Interesting)

zalas (682627) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983113)

...and on the sponsored ads, every one of them had 'AXA' in the title, but didn't seem to be related to the company itself. Are sponsored links different from regular links in that the companies give Google the title that'll show up? It seems like the only way to actually solve this may be to force Google to check for trademarks in titles, but that is a LOT of work, and probably is only feasible if a company assertively places its name in "the list."

Re:I searched on Google... (1)

boris_the_hacker (125310) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983266)

Yeah it'd be a pain to search for the trademark information... if only they had some form of search technology.......

Heh. Not meant as a flame just as a silly joke - my brain is starting to melt from my study!

Adwords could use an overhaul (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983123)

Often when i search for one thing i get adds for something else. Not that i care that much, but its just a bit silly :)

They don't have a case... and they know it (5, Insightful)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983188)

Let's take a step back for just a second. Std Disclaimer: IANAL, but I play one on /.

If "AXA" wins, this means that using its name is forbidden, unless the company gives its approval beforehand. This imposes an undue restriction on freedom of speech, since Google is certainly not the only forum in which AXA is discussed and/or searched. Will this company sue, let's say, every newspapers or forums that discuss insurance companies and/or policies? Unlikely.

A few years ago, AXA may have argue its case by saying that it was 'undue competition', since France had laws prohibiting comparative commercials (Product A is better than product B because of...). But this is not the case anymore and comparative commercials are now legal in France.

Google may also argue that AdWords do not 'target' AXA, since -- AFAIK -- they are generated automatically. AXA is an insurance company (this is public knowledge). Therefore, a Google search on, say 'life insurance' would return pretty much the same AdWords results.

Therefore, I think AXA does not have a case. I also believe they know it, but that some over-zealous jerk in its Legal Dept decided to press the case anyway, just to make a point. They are just throwing good money out the window.

This may seem surprising, but French courts have proven in the past to be remarkably reasonable when it came to the Internet (Yahoo! 'nazi' case aside) and the previous decision is a case in point, since AXA lost it.

I fully expect Google to fight this all the way to the French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation), if need be. And I expect them to win.

Just my 0.02 Euros...

No impact to business model (1)

gorbachev (512743) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983207)

Think about it: words in the dictionary vs. trademark names, which one wins?

All this means that the competitors of Axa, who are now buying the keyword "Axa", would have to buy some other keyword likely to be used when searching for insurance / financial advisor services.

search engine spammers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983210)

are at it again... The people they need to go after are the ones using the AXA trademark in their keywords metas and gateway pages.

Google has no control over this.

If this is about purchasing the AXA keyword, they need to bid a little higher. This stupid behaviour is typical of insurance companies and banks, both traditionally behind the times with regard to the internet.

l8,
AC

Jurisdiction (1)

mebon (634191) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983213)

If I understand correctly, websites fall under the jurisdiction of where they are viewed from, not where they are served from. Doesn't this mean that they are subject to the sum of all the world's laws, since they can be viewed anywhere in the world?

It seems to me that websites should fall under the jurisdiction of the country they are hosted from. People who connect to the server should be subject to the laws of their individual country. This would prevent people like Sklyarov from being arrested for doing something that isn't illegal in their own country.

Tactics (1)

Rutje (606635) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983216)

I think Axa does not care much of the outcome of the trial. This is simply a cheap form of marketing. 1. Sue big IT-company (microsoft, google, sun, apple) 2. Get mentioned on /. 3. Everyone knows your company.

Easy solution: (1)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983237)

Disable searches for "AXA" altogether.

Re:Easy solution: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983399)

Uh, oh, what's google's marketshare? This might be easily seen as monopolisitc abuse, then.

Huh (1)

kauttapiste (633236) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983249)

If this claim is successful, this could be quite a setback for Google's business model.


If this claim is successful, this could be quite a setback for use of common sense in the world. Well, in the US anyway. Also quite a setback for people who still think that there is some sense in the world. For the rest of us, just a short sarcastic laugher in the midst of this coding slavery.

This happened to us, but you don't need to sue (4, Interesting)

mattbee (17533) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983255)

I think this was pretty standard practice at one point, to put your competitors names as triggers for your Adword advert. A competitor tried to do that to us, which we thought was a bit scummy but we didn't have the resources to do anything about it. Someone pointed us at Google's compaints procedure: we wrote to them, and after a long delay the offending advert was taken down. I found another article [eweek.com] which implies that they will be reversing this policy and allowing you to bid on anybody's name and trademark, and take down adverts only where a particular jurisdiction makes it awkward for them (i.e. outside of US and Canada). This sucks of course but TBH I'm not sure said competitor would have got many hits from our name at the time. Now I suspect they might but this time we'd be able to do something about it :-)

Re:This happened to us, but you don't need to sue (1)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983427)

Why, exactly, is this "a bit scummy"? It's called competition, my friend, and contrary to what you might believe, it's actually good for the consumer. I do the same thing on AdWords with what I sell, because I believe my product is superior to the competitor's product. If they have a problem with this, then they can either (1) refute the claim, (2) improve their product, or (3) shut the hell up.

There are few things worse than a company that whines because they expect their customers to be handed to them on a silver platter ("I exist, therefore, I deserve").

Information management (1)

defsdoor (737019) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983264)

So if someone asks me what AXA is and I don't give the information that AXA want will I also be facing a suit ? We best all keep our mouths shut in the AXA inspired future.

Google's Fault (1)

scottennis (225462) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983326)

I get the feeling that this may be Google's fault for not recognizing AXA as a brand name. They can certainly reject adword ads if they think the purchaser is violating a trademark.

Try doing a search for "American Express" and see what ads come up on Google.

The law is the last refuge of the incompetent. (1)

kale77in (703316) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983367)

Now correct me if I'm not understanding this right:

  • AXA own axa.com
  • AXA choose not to USE axa.com, but to forward it to AXAonline.com
  • AXA likewise do not put the word 'AXA' in the title of their homepage, but rather 'AXAonline'.
  • AXA then somehow find the temerity to moan about their poor performance in search engine queries involving the term 'AXA'.

If these are the premises, then the conclusion must be that AXA are suing on the grounds of their own baseline incompetence in web-promotion.

Google Should be Sued. (-1, Flamebait)

Peschula (774267) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983381)

Anyone who owns a company in America knows competition is the key. We are capitalist afterall. One shouldn't see their competitor come up first on the list. Also google seems to be somewhat anti-semitic because when one types in Jew the first page is JewWatch, an anti-semitic webpage. 100,000 online signatures were given in the first week. Even though google said they'd remove it after 50,000 signatures they left it there. Why should I use the search engine kept running by hypocrites?! http://www.petitiononline.com/rjw23/petition.html

Pathetic ! (1)

digitalsurgeon (629388) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983393)

to me this suing thing seems so very pathetic, why can't they ask google to fix the thing instead of suing them ?

ad already pulled (1)

wwwillem (253720) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983396)

If you go to www.google.fr [google.fr] and search for AXA, no ads show up (anymore). So it looks like Google pulled the AdWord already. Do they feel guilty then?

Search engine doing what it should... (2, Insightful)

TheRealStyro (233246) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983415)

I don't see any problem. The Google search engine is doing exactly as it should - it is finding matching/close references within its website database. It just makes sense that the engine will find competitors/similar sites. A lawsuit over a service that is performing as it should should be dismissed immediately (with a warning to the industry not to try this stunt again).

Real life parallel (1)

skjernaa (224206) | more than 10 years ago | (#8983416)

This seems ridiculous:

If I went to a computer shop and asked for an Intel processor, would the shop break the law if they told me that AMD also makes processors?

Simple Fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8983420)

Search Term: AXA
Total matches : 0.
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