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Interflora initiated litigation proceedings last year after M&S purchased its rival’s name as a Google AdWord, which meant that when an internet user typed ‘Interflora’ into the search engine an advert for M&S Flowers appeared.
According to the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), Niilo Jääskinen, Marks & Spencer’s (M&S) use of Google AdWords infringed florist network Interflora’s trademark. An ECJ ruling on the case will be made in a few months’ time, and if the decision is in favour of Interflora there could be huge ramifications for the whole of the online advertising sector.
The Advocate General considers that use of a rival trademark as a Google AdWord constitutes trade mark infringement where the consumer is unable to determine whether or not the advert is for the brand they originally searched for. Even though the ECJ ruled last year that Google was not liable for trademark infringement by selling AdWords to rival companies, the search engine firm could feel the impact of any decision made in favour of Interflora in other ways. Last year, the European Court of Justice found that Google didn’t infringe on other companies’ rights by allowing competitors to bid on trademarked keywords. The court, however, left it to individual countries to decide on the matter and possibly apply stricter rules. Both Google and the LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) luxury-good company, two of the parties involved, have declared victory in the case.
The AdWord service is a major source of revenue for the California-based corporation Google. It is possible, with this opinion, that Google’s customers may well reconsider how extensively they want to use a competitor’s mark as an AdWord.
An introduction to the GoogleAdwords as trademarks is given in the Intellectual Property video of ‘Legal Aware’.
Many congratulations to Walaa Idris, whose blog site is here, for submitting a near-perfect answer to my question earlier. She wins a copy of ‘Strictly English’ by Simon Heffer, which is a detailed discussion of the use of the English language.
PS Her (Blue) blog is well worth a look!