One of Google’s most well-funded and tenacious opponents in the legal arena, Rosetta Stone, has agreed to settle its trademark suit against the search giant. The language learning software company had contended that the use of its trademarks as “keyword triggers” infringed trademark law and confused consumers.
Terms of the settlement agreement weren’t disclosed.
The three-year-old case was one of the highest-profile legal battles over a practice that has raised the ire of many trademark holders. In the U.S., Google allows AdWords advertisers to bid on trademarked keywords, so someone searching for “Rosetta Stone” could be served ads for competitors.
News of the settlement is likely to be a disappointment to those who have been closely watching the trademarks-as-keywords issue go through the court system. Because Google has been so successful at settling with detractors, there have been few real rulings to establish legal precedent and answer the question once and for all.
The only case Google has definitively won was decided earlier this month. In that case, Daniel Jurin — who holds the trademark for Styrotrim building materials — was the plaintiff. Jurin reportedly lost his attorney and didn’t respond to Google’s summary judgment motion. With no opposition, Google won easily, with the court saying Jurin didn’t provide sufficient evidence.
Earlier this year, The U.S. Court of Appeals revived part of the Rosetta Stone suit — related to direct infringement, contributory infringement and dilution claims — after a Virginia court had issued a summary judgment in favor of Google in 2010.
Now, the two companies are setting aside their differences to “meaningfully collaborate to combat online ads for counterfeit goods and prevent the misuse and abuse of trademarks on the Internet,” according to a joint press release. Court papers made public late in 2010 revealed that the companies — despite their legal dispute — had already been working together on catching counterfeiters and credit card criminals. Rosetta Stone even praises Google’s Trust and Safety team to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).