RealTime IT News

Skies Aren't So Friendly For Google

UPDATED: American Airlines wants Google to stop engaging in one of its biggest business practices.

The airline 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's got American in a litigious mood.

"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."

But a search for "American Eagle," another term which American claims as a trademark, highlights a possible Google defense. The top sponsored result is an advertisement for the clothing store, American Eagle, and its Web site, ae.com.

The airline quotes Google's trademark policy as saying it "will not disable keywords in response to a trademark complaint" and will only "perform a limited investigation of reasonable complaints as a courtesy."

A Google spokesperson told internetnews.com that the company is "confident that our trademark policy strikes a proper balance between trademark owners' interests and consumer choice, and that our position has been validated by decisions in previous trademark cases."

The search leader's history is littered with various intellectual property cases.

In 2005, a publisher of nude photos called Google a massive infringer of copyright as part of a lawsuit over Google's image search.

Book publishers are suing Google over its book search function. And earlier this year, Viacom brought a $1 billion suit against Google and its video-sharing site YouTube.