EU court adviser backs Google on Net ads
Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:17am EDT
LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - An adviser to the European Union's top court backed Google in a
row with luxury goods maker LVMH over Internet advertising, saying the Web search firm had
not infringed trade mark rights.
The case centers on whether Google has the right to sell brand names for Internet search
advertising -- a money-spinner for the group.
Companies such as shoe stores, for example, pay Google so their name appears alongside
Internet search results for a brand of designer shoes they sell.
LVMH's Louis Vuitton fashion brand and others have been fighting such advertising after
makers of imitation products piggybacked on those brands in online searches to attract
But the European Court of Justice said on Tuesday that Advocate General Poiares Maduro
"considers that Google has not infringed trade mark rights by allowing advertisers to buy
keywords corresponding to registered trade marks."
The French courts last year referred the case to the EU tribunal, seeking guidance on whether
Google's use of keywords contravened companies' rights under EU trade mark laws.
Maduro said in his opinion the use of the trade marks was limited to the selection of keywords,
which concerned only Google and the advertisers.
"When selecting keywords, there is thus no product or service sold to the general public. Such a
use cannot therefore be considered as being a use made in relation to goods or services covered
by the trade marks," he said.