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EU court: Google keywords don't violate trademark

If you search for Louis Vuitton and get a knockoff website instead - thanks to Google's sale of the brand's name as a search keyword - is that a trademark infringement? An EU court advisor says no.

Does Google violate the law by selling keywords that use companies' trademarks? No, says an adviser to the EU's top court, the European Court of Justice, according to Reuters. Luxury good maker LVMH (that's Louis Vuitton) sued Google over its sales of brand-name keywords.

"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 European Court of Justice said in a statement on Tuesday.

Trademark does not extend to search advertising keywords, Maduro concluded, since the selection of the words is a matter between Google and its customers.

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/ In effect, the mere display of relevant sites in response to keywords is not enough to establish a risk of confusion on the part of consumers as to the origin of goods or services.

Oh, contraire. I think there is very real risk of confusion since the ads are served in response to a user search using brand names. The service is the brand's website or online presence. This opinion seems to show a misunderstanding of the Web as something tangential to "real" commerce.