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Lawsuit says Google's Sale of Keywords is Illegal

pickens (49171) writes | more than 5 years ago

The Courts 1

Hugh Pickens writes "Google encourages advertisers to purchase other companies' trademarks as targeted search terms and they're expanding the practice into 190 countries so when Audrey Spangenberg typed the name of her small software company, into Google and saw the ads of competitors that had paid Google to display their marketing messages whenever someone searched for FirePond, a registered trademark, she was furious. This week her company filed a class-action suit against Google in federal court in Texas, saying that Google had infringed on her company's trademark and challenged Google's policies on behalf of all trademark owners in the state. Legal experts said it was the first class-action suit against Google over the issue. Google's acceptance of such competitive uses of trademarks has irked many other companies, including the likes of American Airlines and Geico, which have filed suits against Google and settled them. Many brand owners say the practice abuses their brands, confuses customers and increases their cost of doing business. "I know of several companies spending millions of dollars a year in payments to Google to make sure that their company is the very first sponsored link" on searches for their own names, said Terrence Ross, a partner at Gibson Dunn, who represented American Airlines in its suit against Google. "It certainly smacks of a protection racket.""

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Free Market (1)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#27969587)

Google can do whatever they want to with their search engine. It's not like they have anything close to a monopoly on advertising. This is great for consumers, because they can easily see many more options when they search for a specific company. Nobody wants to buy a 'FirePond.' They want to buy what FirePond is selling, and frankly, FirePond may not be the best place to buy it. More information is always better for consumers. It is restraint of trade to try to keep your customers from finding out about your competitors. I hope Ms. Spangenberg not only loses, but is forced to pay Google's legal expense for even bringing this frivolous lawsuit to court.

When someone searches for FirePond, they are not necessarily saying 'find me FirePond.' They are more likely saying 'find me everything like FirePond.' Google's use of keywords absolutely falls under Fair Use. Evil monopolists who want to take away our rights to even talk about their precious Intellectual 'Property' forget that without the consent of the rest of us, they have absolutely no right to a monopoly on anything they think up. The only reason we give them a monopoly is for OUR benefit, not theirs. If they try to take away our benefits, we can take away their monopoly.

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