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 “” brings up
sponsored links, such as and, 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,

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 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.

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