For 10 years we’ve been reporting about trademark disputes over keywords in search engines. Paid links for competitor trademarks, competitors brands in meta-data, optimising on the keyphrase of your enemy – we’ve covered them all. Now a new ruling in a Californian federal appeals court suggests selling search ads based on trademarks doesn’t break trademark law. Confused? Here’s how the court sees it…
The California federal appeals court ruled that buying ads based on a competitor’s name isn’t a violation of trademark law.
The two parties in this case, Network Automation and Advanced Systems Concepts, both sell scheduling and management software.
Network Automation started buying Google and Bing ads tied to the word “ActiveBatch,” the trademarked name of software created by Advanced Systems.
Advanced complained about the practice and the dispute ended up in court.
Last year, a district court judge ruled in favor of Advanced Systems, saying that consumers were likely to be confused by the practice. But the appeals court has now overturned that judgment.