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 Google Scores Victory in AdWords Case against Geico

Google Inc. won a significant legal victory against Geico when a federal judge ruled that the search engine's advertising policy does not violate trademark laws. The ruling is the first in American courts to address whether Google can sell ads linked to trademarked search terms. According to the judge, "as a matter of law it is not trademark infringement to use trademarks as keywords to trigger advertising,"  This outcome had not been expected as in late August, the judge had denied Google and Overture's motion to dismiss six charges brought by Geico and on Nov. 19 had denied Google's motion for summary judgment. Overture (Yahoo!) had settled out of court with insurance company Geico earlier in December 2004. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The judge has yet to rule on another claim by Geico, that Google is liable for trademark infringement when it lets marketers buy ads that use trademarked names in the ad copy. But this should pose no threat to Google, as executives have said Google removes such ads when trademark holders complain.







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