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Google wins in trademark suit with Geico
CNet News ^ | 12/15/2004 | Stefanie Olsen

Posted on 12/15/2004 2:55:11 PM PST by TChris

update Google scored a big legal win Wednesday when a federal judge ruled that its use of trademarks in keyword advertising is legal.

Judge Leonie Brinkema of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted Google's motion to dismiss a trademark-infringement complaint brought by Geico. The insurance company had charged Google with violating its trademarks by using the word "Geico" to trigger rival ads in sponsored search results. Geico claimed the practice diluted its trademarks and caused consumer confusion.

The judge said that "as a matter of law it is not trademark infringement to use trademarks as keywords to trigger advertising," said Michael Page, a partner at Keker & Van Nest, which represented Google.

Brinkema ended the trial Wednesday to issue a formal opinion on the matter. She also asked Google and Geico to settle a dispute over the use of Geico's marks in text of rival ads appearing on the search engine's site.

The ruling is a triumph for Google in that it derives as much as 95 percent of its advertising revenue from keyword-triggered ads, which appear next to Web search results. Trademarks play a central role to the sale of such ads because people often use Web search to find products and services with common, trademarked brand names such as Nike or Geico.

(Excerpt) Read more at news.com.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: geico; google; lawsuit; ruling; trademark
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Another anti-business ruling?
1 posted on 12/15/2004 2:55:11 PM PST by TChris
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To: TChris

great news.


2 posted on 12/15/2004 2:55:46 PM PST by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along)
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To: TChris
Another anti-business ruling?

No. It is another FAIR business ruling.

3 posted on 12/15/2004 2:57:25 PM PST by WildTurkey
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To: TChris

What Google does is when you type "geico" into the search engine, it doesn't just give you Geico, it also gives those paid ads for other insurance companies on the right hand side of the screen. Geico claimed that was an unfair use of it's trademark, which is ridiculous, in my opinion.


4 posted on 12/15/2004 2:57:39 PM PST by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along)
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To: WildTurkey
It is another FAIR business ruling.

I haven't been following this case very closely at all. It does seem a bit unfair to me that a competitor's ad can be tied to my company's name, though.

5 posted on 12/15/2004 3:00:25 PM PST by TChris (Most people's capability for inference is severely overestimated)
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To: TChris
I haven't been following this case very closely at all. It does seem a bit unfair to me that a competitor's ad can be tied to my company's name, though.

GEICO's got money (quite a bit of mine, at that). They can (and should) return the favor by piggybacking as much as possible on their competitors' keywords.

6 posted on 12/15/2004 3:05:55 PM PST by Constitutionalist Conservative (Have you visited http://blog.c-pol.com?)
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To: Rodney King
And when you call 411 information and ask for Geico should they give you the number for Allstate if Allstate pays the phone company to do this?
7 posted on 12/15/2004 3:06:01 PM PST by tophat9000 (We didnít rise they sunk look at the blue, water filled, sink holes map (Mike Moore Fatass divots ?)
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To: TChris
It does seem a bit unfair to me that a competitor's ad can be tied to my company's name, though.

I compare Google to the Yellow Pages. When I look up an insurance company in the Yellow Pages, there are many company's ads there, some even larger and more flashy than others. I don't think its all that bad that other company's ads appear on Google.

8 posted on 12/15/2004 3:07:43 PM PST by egarvue (Piss a liberal off...wish them Merry Christmas!)
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To: TChris
Another anti-business ruling?

Not if the business is Google.

No, I see nothing wrong with the ruling at all.

9 posted on 12/15/2004 3:09:38 PM PST by San Jacinto
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To: tophat9000

But you're not dialing 411 to get a single number, you're looking up something in the internet's version of the yellow pages. Look up Geico in the phonebook, and you'll see numbers and ads for Allstate, State Farm etc., etc.


10 posted on 12/15/2004 3:09:57 PM PST by egarvue (Piss a liberal off...wish them Merry Christmas!)
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative
Is this the same Geico that is pro gun control?
11 posted on 12/15/2004 3:10:03 PM PST by TYVets (God so loved the world he didn't send a committee)
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To: tophat9000
And when you call 411 information and ask for Geico should they give you the number for Allstate if Allstate pays the phone company to do this?

Actually, you may be on to something. I would see nothing wrong with the phone company trying to market such a service. The operator would give the number for Geico as requested and then say: "Would you like the toll free number for Allstate as well?"

12 posted on 12/15/2004 3:12:59 PM PST by San Jacinto
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To: egarvue

Exactly right. Should General Mills sue supermarkets because they put Post cereals on the same shelf? No. Same thing here.


13 posted on 12/15/2004 3:14:10 PM PST by richmwill
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To: tophat9000
And when you call 411 information and ask for Geico should they give you the number for Allstate if Allstate pays the phone company to do this?

Actually, you may be on to something. I would see nothing wrong with the phone company trying to market such a service. The operator would give the number for Geico as requested and then say: "Would you like the toll free number for Allstate as well?"

14 posted on 12/15/2004 3:14:13 PM PST by San Jacinto
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To: tophat9000
And when you call 411 information and ask for Geico should they give you the number for Allstate if Allstate pays the phone company to do this?

That isn't how it works. You enter Geico as a search word and Google gives you the search results. The competing ads are on the right hand side of the page.

I think this is just good business by Google. If you are searching for Geico, that is a good indicator that you are shopping for insurance. It isn't like Google is some sort of public service. It is a for profit search engine.

15 posted on 12/15/2004 3:14:14 PM PST by shempy (EABOF)
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To: egarvue
When I look up an insurance company in the Yellow Pages, there are many company's ads there...

...but only if you look up "insurance". If you look up "Geico", which would be in the white pages, you shouldn't be getting ads for their competitors. I have no problem with ads being tied to a generic term like "insurance", but it bugs me to get a competitor ad when I'm searching for a specific company. With the huge amount of $$ a business owner has to spend in advertising to get that level of name recognition, it's uncool, IMO.

16 posted on 12/15/2004 3:15:43 PM PST by TChris (Most people's capability for inference is severely overestimated)
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To: TChris
This isn't for the search results themselves.

This is about the ads that pop up on the left side when you do a search.

If you go over to Google right now and search for Geico, you'll see what they are talking about.

That's Google's right to sell that space to whomever they want. It's also Geico's right to buy up that space.

Three of the top four results from the search are Geico related.

Besides, Google does a good job of differentiating between the "Sponsored Links" and the actual search results.
17 posted on 12/15/2004 3:17:00 PM PST by jmcclain19 (More from me at http://www.offcenter.us)
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To: San Jacinto
I see nothing wrong with the ruling at all.

I don't either. It's no different than State Farm buying a display ad in the yellow pages on the page where Geico's listing is.

18 posted on 12/15/2004 3:17:12 PM PST by Nick Danger (Want some wood?)
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To: Rodney King

When you type in "John Kerry" in the google search box, paid advertisements for the "Girly Men of America" pop up.


19 posted on 12/15/2004 3:19:39 PM PST by snopercod (Bigger government means clinton won. Less freedom means Osama won. Get it?)
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To: jmcclain19
That's Google's right to sell that space to whomever they want. It's also Geico's right to buy up that space.

I agree that it's Google's right to sell their advertisements, but I can certainly see why Geico would have a problem with those ads being tied to their trademarked name.

20 posted on 12/15/2004 3:21:24 PM PST by TChris (Most people's capability for inference is severely overestimated)
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