Even as Google is liberalizing its trademark policy in Europe to agree with the US policy, luxury goods maker Luis Vuitton may turn back the clock and force a more restrictive policy on Google. France’s highest court ruled for Louis Vuitton last year in a trademark case involving AdWords. Google has appealed. The European Court of Justice will hear the case (date uncertain) and issue a ruling (although that may not come for a year), which will effectively become the law across the EU.
The stakes are very high for Google. If it loses the appeal, it will be compelled to adopt whatever rules the court imposes on it as a pan-European approach. That may require the reestablishment of two (or multiple) systems for AdWords (US vs. EU) concerning use of trademarks by competitors and third parties that don’t own them.