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Google Sponsored Links Trademark Infringement Trial Begins

by Glen Shapiro, LawAndTax-News.com, New York

15 December 2004


The case brought earlier this year by auto-insurance firm, Geico against internet search portal, Google over the latter's 'sponsored links' service has begun, it emerged this week.

In May of this year, Geico filed suit against Google, alleging that its use of the Geico trademark to draw up adverts for rival insurance providers represented an infringement. Geico is reported to be seeking $8.65 million in damages and an injunction to prevent Google's AdWords program from using its trademark.

Speaking to the Associated Press with regard to the case, which is being heard by Virginia District Judge Leonie Brinkema, Geico attorney, Charles Ossola explained that:

"When a consumer enters 'Geico'...and goes to the sponsored link believing there's a connection, that is where the confusion arises."

Google has faced a number of lawsuits in different countries brought by aggrieved trademark owners. On the whole, Google has won when the keywords in question are generic, but has lost when they are clearly proprietary, although a French judgement - now under appeal - gave protection to a generic keyword.

A comprehensive report in our Intelligence Report series examining offshore e-commerce and online gaming is available in the Lowtax Library at http://www.lowtaxlibrary.com/asp/subs_reports.asp and a description of the report can be seen at http://www.lowtaxlibrary.com/asp/description_report6.asp

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