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 European Court of Justice will hear Google Adwords lawsuit!

So far, there have been more than 70 decisions on Adwords in EU member states, more than 30 in France alone. The rulings differ in finding and reasoning. The use of trademark protected terms as keywords may be legal in some member states (e.g. in Great Britain), may be illegal in other member states (e.g. in France and Italy). German courts are split on this question.

It seems that advertisers will finally get some very important advice. The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg will hear a trademark infringement suit concerning Google AdWords! Its decision will probably influence future adwords lawsuits in all 27 member states, because trademark law is harmonised across the EU (see: First Council Directive 89/104/EEC of 21 December 1988 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks), and could force Google to change its policy over trademarks and keywords in some member states.

In 2005 Louis Vuitton successfully sued Google; not only for allowing keyword combinations that associate plaintiff's protected marks with terms including "imitation", "fake" and "copies", but also for proposing such terms to would-be advertisers (Louis Vuitton Malletier / Google, Civil Court of Paris (TGI), February 4, 2005). In June 2006 The Paris Court of Appeals agreed with that decision and found Google guilty of trademark counterfeiting and unfair competition.

Google appealed to the Cour de cassation, the main court of last resort in France. The Court decided to ask the European Court of Justice whether the offering of alternative choices of (trademark protected) keywords breaches trade mark laws.

The decision can be found at: (French). For comments see, (both French) and (German)

There have been two more AdWords related court decisions in France this year:

  • Tribunal de Grande Instance Lyon, decision of March 13, 2008 - "Rentabiliweb"

  • Tribunal de Grande Instance Paris, decision of March 14, 2008 - "Citadines"

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