Court Reversal Brings Surprising Loss For Google In AdWords Trademark Case

Image courtesy Shutterstock.com

A Federal judge in California has denied Google’s motion to dismiss a “false association” claim in Daniel Jurin’s case against it, surprisingly reversing his own previous rulings. Intellectual property attorney Eric Goldman reported the development in his Technology and Marketing Law Blog.

Jurin has been waging a legal battle against Google for years, alleging that the search engine’s AdWords program infringes on his “Styrotrim” building materials trademark.

Federal District Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. issued the ruling in response to Google’s motions to dismiss various parts of Jurin’s second amended complaint in the case, which accused Google of breach of contract, false designation of origin, and false association.

Though the Judge has dismissed most of Jurin’s claims, this time he declined to dismiss the false association claim. In the claim, the Plaintiff alleges that Google’s AdWords program and its keyword suggestion tool create confusion about who the producer of Styrotrim is, or whether competitors are associated with the product.

“Plaintiff alleges that internet users who enter the keyword ‘Styrotrim’ on Defendant’s search engine, and view the websites for Plaintiff’s competitors in ‘Sponsored Links,’ may become confused as to which company is the producer of ‘Styrotrim,’ or whether competitors are associated with ‘Styrotrim,’” the Judge wrote in his ruling.

Hold off on filing those lawsuits, though, because Google’s argument in the motion to dismiss was that it had to be a competitor in the building materials industry to be subject to the false association claim. The judge denied that rationale, but hasn’t yet made a final ruling in the case.

Goldman warns prospective plaintiffs that they shouldn’t see this as encouragement to file lawsuits. “Listen up, plaintiffs: this case only offers false hope! This is a bad ruling and Jurin will unquestionably lose in the end,” he wrote on his blog. “Don’t buy your lawyer a new boat when you could invest those dollars in a better product or more effective marketing.”

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords | Legal: Trademarks | Top News

Sponsored


About The Author: is Executive Features Editor at Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. She’s a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since 1998.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



SearchCap:

Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  

Share

Other ways to share:
 

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • http://www.michael-martinez.com/ Michael Martinez

    Interesting. When I searched on the product name just now, I did see a very misleading URL in a sponsored listing as the leading ad that *could* confuse people. You have to really look at the URL carefully because Google is apparently BOLDing the product name in the URL.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest

 
 

Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States

Europe

Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech


Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!

 


 

Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide