Google Sued For Trademark Infringement By American Airlines Over Sponsored Ads

Eric Goldman reports that American Airlines is suing Google over trademark infringement in AdWords.

As Eric points out, this type of lawsuit is nothing new to Google. Many companies have taken Google to court for allowing advertisers to bid on their trademarked names. However, in this case, American Airlines, the two words, are extremely generic names – although American Airlines, the company, is an extremely popular and well known trademarked brand name.

I skimmed through the large PDF complaint and found the keywords in question on this lawsuit. They include (see starting on page 21):

  • American Airlines
  • American Airlines Deal
  • Free AA Travel Offers
  • americanairlines.com
  • AmericanAirlines
  • American Airline
  • AmericanAirlines Com
  • www.americanairlines.com
  • American Air Lines
  • and others

They then go through how searches on the word Google and misspellings of Google do not return any results.

The filing then shows how Google’s keyword suggestion tool shows these keyword suggestions for the American Airlines trademarked terms.

Eric Goldman feels this lawsuit is “not a good lawsuit for American Airlines to bring.”

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Legal | Legal: Trademarks

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • http://www.ppc-advice.com Garry – PPC-Advice.com

    It amazes me what companies will sue for these days. I can see how larger corporations may take action against trademarks appearing in display text, but targeting a keyword is commonplace. Your post inspired me to write on why keyword lawsuits fail.

    Garry

  • http://www.onthetiles.blogspot.com Johnny T

    That’s funny…I just did a search on Google for ‘google’ and received a sponsored add for a search firm. I also searched for ‘goole’ and received a sponsored ad for batanga.com (whatever that is – the ad was in spanish I believe).

    If I were AA, instead of spending money on a lawsuit – I’d pump money into my PPC marketing teams and have them optimize all of their keyword ads. But that’s just me.

  • http://www.sitecreations.com/blog Scott Clark

    http://www.americanairlines.com, americanairlines.com, and AmericanAirlines Com AS A KEYWORD is definitely problematic. Those are really just a form of cybersquatting, no?

    The others are an effect of a generically named company. I mean TWA is an American airlines, too.

    So, my expert solution? I think they should change their name to something more Web 2.0.

    gigaflyster airlines

    Then they’d have something to rumble about.

  • http://www.totus.us Troy Perkins

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had problems with American Airlines from a flight perspective. In fact the last issue was a 24 hour bump which consumed me and wifes trip (ruined!) to Vegas. She and I have vowed never to travel via AA again.

    Now their suing Google for this… Please!!!

  • http://www.semreportcard.com semreportcard

    Kudos to American Airlines for bringing the suit. A lot of search marketers and agencies are ignorant to the significance of trademark protection, until they themselves have issues.

    Everyone seems to think that these trademark suits are fruitless, but that mentality couldn’t be farther than the truth.

    Google was hammered by the courts in the Geico v. Google suit which forced Google to settle out of court and change their trademark policy.

    It is only a matter of time before we will finally have real trademark protection in the ads of search engines.

    I am looking forward to the day a class action is brought against all the search engines. Can you imagine the aggregate dollar amount of compensatory damages?

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