RealTime IT News

Google To Pay Nothing in Keyword 'Sucker's Bet'

Google will not pay American Blind & Wallpaper Factory any fee after settling a suit over its Adwords trademark policy.

As long as Google does not change its trademark policy, American Blind & Wallpaper Factory will drop its suit, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by internetnews.com.

"We are very pleased with this outcome and to note that Google has not paid and will not be paying any settlement fee, our trademark policies remain unchanged, and we've made no special exceptions for American Blind," Google managing counsel Michael Kwun told internetnews.com.

"From the start, we've said that American Blind & Wallpaper Factory's claims were baseless, and that Google's trademark policies are perfectly reasonable and lawful," Kwun said.

American Blind & Wallpaper Factory did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Eric Goldman, director of Santa Clara University School of Law's High Tech Law Institute, thinks the now-former plaintiff fell for a "sucker bet" when it decided to sue over the fact that search queries on some of its trademarked terms returned searches from competitors and others.

"I think American Blinds' complete capitulation is the latest reminder to plaintiffs that it's often irrational to bring lawsuits over keywords," Goldman wrote on his Technology & Marketing Law blog.

"This case reiterates that keyword-related lawsuits can be a sucker's bet," Goldman wrote.

If that's true, the latest "sucker" to test the legality of Google AdWords's trademark policy might be American Airlines, which wants Google to stop selling keyword-based sponsored search results tied to any of its trademarks and is seeking punitive damages over the alleged infringement.

A Google search for the trademarked term "AA.com" brings up sponsored links, such as CheapoAir.com and ArlineTickets.cheapnhotels.com, which is what put American in a litigious mood last month.

"The fundamental purpose of trademark law, in the bricks-and-mortar world and on the Internet, is to protect consumers from being confused as to the source or affiliation of the products or services that they seek to buy," reads a copy of the American's complaint.

"Google's search engine is helping third parties to mislead consumers and misappropriate the American Airlines Marks by using them as 'keyword' triggers for paid advertisements and by using them within the text or title of paid advertisements."

Google has faced similar suits from Louis Vuitton, AXA, as well as two French travel companies, among others.