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Update 46: January 21, 2007

1. Quicksilverscreen: Liablity for linking

QuickSilverScreen is a US based website that is being forced to shut down or be given away for free after Fox claimed that linking to TV Shows on video sharing sites like YouTube and DailyMotion is illegal.


2. Australian court rules against MP3 link site (see Update 32 for more information on the lawsuit)

The Australian Federal Court in Cooper v. Universal Music Australia found the operator of and an ISP guilty of authorizing copyright infringement by providing a search engine that enabled Internet users to illegally download MP3 files.

December 19, 2006: Reactions to the Cooper decision


3. Dutch Court explicitly allows Google to continue broad matching

According to the Amsterdam District Court, Google's practice of broadmatching does not raise any trademark concerns where an advertisement is triggered by a non-trademarked term (i.e. date) even though the search query contains a trademarked term (here: farm date).

Endless Webdesign is the owner of the word mark "Farm Date" and demanded that Google remove the sponsored hyperlinks that appear when search terms "farm date" and "farm-date" are used. Google succesfully argued that most of the objected advertisements were shown based on the adword "date". The court ruled that Google didn't infringe plaintiffs trademark by offering this adword.

So the court explicitly allowed Google to continue broad matching. Google's own Complaint Procedure for trademark rights outside the USA and Canada reads:

"Furthermore, please be aware that we do not take any action in situations where an advertisement is being triggered by non-trademarked terms even though the search query contains a trademarked term. This stems from the fact that Google allows advertisers to use a broad matching system to target their ads. For example, if an advertiser has selected the keyword shoes , that advertiser's ad will appear when a user enters the word "shoes" as a search query, regardless of other search terms that may be used. So, the ad would show if the user entered any of the following search queries: "tennis shoes," "red shoes," or "Nike shoes." This system eliminates the need for the advertiser to specify individually the many different search query combinations that are relevant to their ad."

Amsterdam District Court, Decision of August 24, 2006, Endless Webdesign v. Google Netherlands B.V.

Google Broadmatching

Another verdict on the use of Google ‘adwords’ in the Netherlands:

On November 12, 2004 the District Court of The Hague held that Yiggers' use of the AdWord "Pretium" (trademark and trade name of its competitor) is an infringement on Pretium's intellectual property rights. Google did not join these proceedings.

  • District Court The Hague, November 12, 2004, Computerrecht 2005, 7 (Pretium - Yiggers)


4. Meta-Search-Service as unfair competition in Norway

According to the Trondheim District Court, offering a meta-search-service to facilitate a search in several data bases from different real estate agents can infringe copyrights and sui generis database rights. Although providing a meta-search-engine does not constitute an unfair practice, bad faith can be generated by inferior quality leading users to hold the service as a representative of the rights holder's database.

Decision by Trondheim District Court of March 17, 2006, Finn Eiendom AS and AS v. Supersøk AS and Ekko It AS


5. Keyword Advertising and Metatags no Trademark Violation in the USA, (but don't count on it)

Different courts in the USA are still coming to totally different conclusions on AdWords and metatags. Here is the latest ruling:

According to a recent U.S. District Court of Eastern Pennsylvania ruling, it's okay to insert trademarks in your meta tags and to use trademarks when buying search ads, at least as long as  the names are not used in the actual ads (J.G. Wentworth SSC Ltd v. Settlement Funding LLC, No. 06-0597 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 4, 2007)). There is no likelihood of confusion:

"Due to the separate and distinct nature of the links created on any of the search results pages in question, potential consumers have no opportunity to confuse defendant’s services, goods, advertisements, links or websites for those of plaintiff. Therefore, I find that initial interest protection does not apply here. Because no reasonable factfinder could find a likelihood of confusion under the set of facts alleged by plaintiff, I will grant defendant’s motion to dismiss."


6. A lawsuit over five dollars - Bradley v. Google

“This is a lawsuit over five dollars.” So begins the court’s analysis. On August 19, 2006, Google AdSense terminated Bradley's account, removed all ads, and failed to pay plaintiff the approximately five dollars in revenue that the ads on her site had generated.

Theresa Bradley’s $250,000 lawsuit alleges that her staff spent 100 hours placing Google AdSense ads…only to have Google remove them, alleging that Bradley clicked on her own ads in violation of the AdSense user agreement. (For more information on this hilarious lawsuit see Update 43). Her claims: false advertising under the Lanham Act, fraud, interference with prospective business advantage, violations of California Commercial Code § 2207 relating to alteration of contract terms, breach of contract, unlawful interception of electronic communications under 18 U.S.C. § 2520, invasion of privacy under California law, and intentional destruction of evidence, professional property, and personal property.
Only one of her eight claims survived a motion to dismiss:
On August 24, 2006, plaintiff discovered that all of the emails in which she had communicated with Google AdSense had been removed or deleted from her account. This claim for injury to personal property was not dismissed.

Bradley v. Google, Inc., 2006 WL 3798134 (N.D. Cal.)


7. Uline Inc. v. JIT Packaging Inc.

According to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinoi (Uline Inc. v. JIT Packaging Inc., N.D. Ill. No 04 C 1954, 6/26/06), Google and Overture acted within their respective advertising agreements when they restricted the use of certain comparative ads ("Save Up to 70% Over ULINE") in response to complaints from a trademark owner. The court made it plain that the trademark owner did not tortiously interfer with the advertiser's agreement. JIT had argued that Uline pushed Google to breach its advertisement agreement by forcing JIT to modify its ads even though Uline failed to comply with Google's "Trademark Complaint Procedure": Google had acted upon a phone call from Uline. According to the court, Google's policy does not state that it will only accept complaints that comply with the preferred format.


8. Copiepresse Asks Yahoo to Remove Links

Copiepresse, a group representing French- and German-language Belgian newspaper publishers,  has asked Yahoo! Inc. to remove links to their archived stories from its Web search service, claiming they infringe copyright laws

Last September, Google has been ordered by a Belgian court to remove all articles, photographs and graphics from French-speaking newspapers (see Update 43). Google appealed the decision. A court ruling is expected early this year.


New in Legal Resources:

  • Google Doing „Reasonable“ Job Pruning Out Invalid Links, Independent Expert Tells Court, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2006, 818

  • Pasquale, Frank A., "Rankings, Reductionism, and Responsibility" (February 25, 2006). Seton Hall Public Law Research Paper No. 888327 Available at SSRN:

  • Search Engine’s Sale of Trademark Terms As Keywords Ruled Commercial Use of Mark, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2006, 794

  • AFP Gets More Time to Match Works to Google News, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2006, 799

  • German Publishers’ Group Turned Away In Bid to Halt Google Book Search Project,  Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2006, 775-776

  • Google Cleared From Liability For Keyword Ads Tied to Trademark, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2006, 992

  • Fair Use Implications of Thumbnails Revisited by Ninth Circuit in Perfect 10, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2006, 830-831

  • Defining Scope of Display Right Online Becomes Key Issue in Perfect 10 Appeal, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2006, 807-808

  • Meta Tag Artifacts Not Enough to Merit Injunction, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2006, 977

  • Google Did Not Breach Ad Contract By Barring Use of Mark in Comparative Ads, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2006, 777-778

  • Web Search Is Not A “Public Function” Requiring Google to Protect Free Speech, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2006, 768
  • Advertiser Sues Yahoo Over Pay-Per-Click-Program, The Computer & Internet Lawyer, issue 7/2006, p. 28 f. 
  • Leistner, Matthias, Von "Grundig-Reporter(n) zu Paperboy(s)", GRUR 2006, 801 ff.
  • Schippan, Martin, § 95 a UrhG - eine Vorschrift (erstmals richtig) auf dem Prüfstand, ZUM 2006, 853 - 864
  • Ott, Stephan, Haftung für Hyperlinks in Deutschland, Österreich und den USA, GRUR Int. 2007, 14-27




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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