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Update 43: October 7, 2006

1. Belgium: Publisher v. Search Engine

Google has been ordered by a Belgian court to remove all articles, photographs and graphics from French-speaking newspapers. Copiepresse issued the complaint and won the court ruling on September 5th. Not only does this require Google to remove content from Google News, the court order also requires removing the content from the Google cache. has a link to the full court order.

Google asked the court to reconsider its decision and requested that the requirement to post the ruling on its home pages be suspended. The court on Friday 22nd September agreed to reconsider its ruling in November this year.

Also see a press release by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) about a new software-based protocol called ACAP (Automated Content Access Protocol) which is used to tell search engine spiders, and other services, what can be done with the content they crawl. The project is due to start later this year and last for 12 months.


  • September 25, 2006: About the Google News case in Belgium, Official Google Blog:
    "You may have read recently about Google being taken to court in Belgium. Whilst we aren't allowed to comment on the judgment itself, we thought you may want to know the facts of the case -- what actually happened, and when -- and the issues it raises."

  • September 25, 2006: Googles Einspruch in Belgien zurückgewiesen, Heise:
    "Der Suchmaschinenanbieter Google muss einer gerichtlichen Anordnung Folge leisten und die Verfügung eines belgischen Gerichts auf seinen Angeboten veröffentlicht."

  • September 22, 2006: Bogatin, Donna, Google vs. Belgian media: You go Belgium!, ZDNet Blogs

  • September 18, 2006: Google muss belgische Zeitungsartikel aus seinem Angebot entfernen, Heise:
    "Der Internetsuchmaschinen-Betreiber Google muss Artikel, Fotografien und grafische Darstellungen französisch- und deutschsprachiger belgischer Zeitungen aus seinen Angeboten entfernen, die vom Unternehmen Copiepresse vertreten werden."


2. Theresa Bradley sues Google over Adsense Ban

It took Theresa B. Bradley and her staff 100 hours for "placing and reviewing HTML code for Google AdSense" on her site, Although Google's AdSense terms & policies clearly states "Please note that clicking on your own ads for any reason is prohibited, to avoid potential inflation of advertiser costs", Bradley clicked her own ads "to verify that the advertisers were not selling competing products" (Google provides a Preview Tool that helps customers judge the quality of AdSense advertisements on their site). It didn't take long and Google suspended her account.

Bradley now decided to sue Google for $250,000 in San Francisco federal district court because it took her so long to place and review AdSense advertisements on her web site. So let us do a little math: 250.000 dollars for 100 hours, that makes 2.500 dollars an hour. Not bad! But the nonsense continues: is not a very big web site: Only about 50 pages. So it took 2 hours to include the AdSense code into one page!

The suit also accuses Google of fraud and misrepresentation, including misrepresentation in commercial advertising, and of "willfull, wanton, fraudulent and malicious" conduct regarding its AdSense product.

Bradley's chance of success? 0 %, I guess..

3. Contract Terms "easily accessed" by clicking on hyperlink

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that a forum selection clause in an internet service provider’s terms of service was enforceable against a customer who did not read the terms prior to clicking an “Accept” button. In ESL Inc. v. Interland Inc., S.D.N.Y. No. 1:06-cv-02503, 6/21/06, the court held that the plaintiff was sufficiently notified of the clause by text stating, “By clicking the ‘Accept’ button below you acknowledge that you have read and agree to be bound by the policies listed below,” even where the policies were offered as PDF documents rather than as inline text or hyperlinked HTML pages.

Full text of the decision


4. Kinderstart v. Google: Second Amended Complaint (for more information on the case see Update 38 and 41)

In July 2006 U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel for the Northern District in San Jose dismissed a lawsuit brought by that accused Google in March 2006 of "pervasive monopolistic practices" that led to the denial of the site's free speech rights, prevention and destruction of competition, and predatory pricing (N.D. Cal. motion to dismiss granted July 13, 2006). Kinderstart, a parenting search engine site, filed its suit after suffering an approximate 70 percent drop in monthly traffic after Google buried its visibility in search results. In September 2006 KinderStart issued a 63 page second amended complaint against Google.

For a more comprehensive look at the lawsuit in German see: Ott, Google gegen


5. 800-JR Cigar Inc. v.

In 800-JR Cigar, Inc. v., Inc.,et al., the US District Court of New Jersey issued an opinion on whether the use of a trademark as a "keyword" constitutes trademark infringement by a search engine. The plaintiff,  JR Cigar,  is a prominent seller of cigars at discount prices and the owner of six federal trademarks that utilize the formative “JR” or “JR Cigar.” The defendant, GoTo is a pay-for-priority Internet search engine (a search engines that solicits bids from advertisers for key words or phrases to be used as search terms, giving priority results on searches for those terms to the highest-paying advertiser)   formed in 1997 (now Overture). Between April 1999 and June 2001, GoTo earned revenue of about $345 from paid listings for “jr cigar” and related search terms.

The court adopted the reasoning of Government Employees Insurance Co. v. Google Inc., 330 F. Supp. 2d 700, 73 USPQ2d 1212 (E.D. Va. 2004) and held, among other things, that such sales by a search engine constitute a "use" of the trademark "in commerce" within the meaning of federal trademark statutes. According to the court GoTo made use of JR's trademark in three ways:

• GoTo traded on the value of the marks when it accepted payment by competitors of JR desiring to pay for prominence in search results.

• GoTo injected itself into the marketplace by placing the advertisers before the natural search results list, acting as a conduit to steer potential customers away from JR to JR's competitors.

• GoTo's "Search Term Suggestion Tool" identified which of JR's marks were effective search terms, and then marketed them to JR's competitors.

The court concluded, however, that there are disputed issues of fact that preclude a summary judgment ruling on the issue of direct trademark infringement, in particular the likelihood of confusion resulting from the sale of trademark terms as keyword search terms.

For a detailed look at the decision, read:


6. Google wins keyword lawsuit against Rescuecom

Google won a major sponsored keyword trademark case in the USA. A New York District Court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Rescuecom, a computer repair and consulting business, that accused Google of trademark infringement by selling its brand as a search term.  The court came to this conclusion, in part, because "there is no allegation that (Rescuecom's) trademark is displayed in any of the sponsored links about which (Rescuecom) is concerned." "There is no allegation that (Google) places (Rescuecom's) trademark on any goods, containers, displays or advertisements, or that its internal use is visible to the public," the judge concluded.
See: The ruling (16-page / 1.7MB PDF)



7. Legal-IST Workshop in Brussels

LEGAL-IST is an EC funded project aimed to support research in the IST Priority from a legal point of view by studying the legal implications of current research initiatives and providing suggestions for relevant implementation strategy. It also contributes to emerging policies for strengthening the EU regulatory framework through consensus-building among policy-makers. Last week I have attended the LEGAL-IST Workshop "Crucial legal issues in IST-business" in Brussels, where a discussion about the liability of internet service providers took place. You can download a report here. I will share some of my ideas on how to create a reasonable liability system for PHLTs (providers of hyperlinks and location tools) in Europe in one of the next updates.


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The Links & Law website is updated regularily, so  check back for updated information and resources about search engine and linking issues.

You are currently in the archive with older news. A complete list of the updates can be found here!

Latest News - Update 71

Legal trouble for YouTube in Germany

Germany: Employer may google job applicant

EU: Consultation on the E-Commerce-Directive

WIPO Paper on tradmarks and the internet

The ECJ and the AdWords Cases



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