Monday, September 24, 2007

Anerican Airlines AdWords Lawsuit

Litigation continues over Google AdWords (see previous post). The latest development: Google is seeking to dismiss a suit by American Airlines, reports the Dallas Business Journal.

American's miffed that AdWords can display a competitor's ads next to search results for a company's trademarks (search for "American Airlines" and you might get United ads next to the American results).

Google says this is no different than a drugstore displaying generic drugs next to brand name drugs, or printing a coupon for Minutemaid on the back of a grocery receipt of a customer who bought Tropicana. Good analogies.

What Google's fighting is a line of cases regarding "initial interest confusion," which prohibit using a competitor's trademark in meta tags in order to attract search engines. But Google's an information provider, not a competitor of American. It's a close case - for instance, if Google displayed the ads in a popup that hides the actual search results, that would seem wrong. But where the ads are merely adjacent to the search results, or at the head of the list, I think Google's right.

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