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Google and LVMH battle over AdWords in Europe
(Fortune) -- Tomorrow morning the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg is expected to decide whether Google, and, by inference, other search engines, can continue to auction off other companies' trademarks for use as louis vuitton 163 search "keywords" in connection with their sponsored advertising programs.
An adverse ruling would louis vuitton outlet clearance force a permanent change louis vuitton purses atlanta to the engine that accounts for 97% of Google's revenues, which were lvna mail more than totallt pm $23 billion in 2009. And while this decision probably won't cut into that, the massive interest in this case shows just how central Google (Fortune 500) has become to world economies: Although the European Court of Justice usually hears cases in five-judge panels, the entire 15-judge court has convened to decide this one because of its enormous significance. lawyers and judges, too, are watching closely louis vuitton wallets and handbags to see if there are lessons to be mined here.
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Brand owners don't just have a problem with competitors or counterfeiters buying up their names. They're also furious at Google for helping the process along. Google's automated Keyword Suggestion Tool, louis vuitton neverfull gm which offers optimal search terms, will sometimes prompt advertisers to use trademarks, cheap louis vuitton wallet proposing, say, "LV inspired louis vuitton outlet edmonton handbags," or "fake Louis Vuitton bags," or "imitation Louis Vuitton," to cite actual keyword recommendations generated in the Louis Vuitton case.
"If a consumer is searching for information about a particular car," Google says in a prepared statement, "he or she will want more than just that car's website. They might be looking for different dealers that sell the car, second-hand cars, reviews about the car, or . information about other cars in the same category. Our aim is to ensure that users are shown luxury handbags useful and relevant ads."
Brand owners, on the other hand, say that many consumers do not understand the difference between Google's natural listings and its sponsored advertisements, and that Google allows deceptive ads to be listed. If a consumer types in "Louis Vuitton," for instance, and sees an ad saying "get handbags here," he may assume he's being linked to a site that sells Louis Vuitton handbags, says David Bernstein, a trademark lawyer at New York's Debevoise Plimpton. "It ends up being a bait and switch," he says. The first is whether advertisers (as opposed to search engines) violate trademark rights when they bid on a trademark at an AdWords auction. The distinction is important: since search engines are louis vuitton handbags shop merely selling advertising a strong argument louis vuitton purses and handbags can be made that they are not infringing in any traditional sense; advertisers who are buying another brand's name, however, might be out to confuse consumers. louis vuitton online united states would be called "contributory" or "vicarious" infringement, for having enabled and benefited from the advertisers' infringements. A subsidiary question, wrapped into this one, is Sherwood GM whether Google is louis vuitton diaper bag blue acting as a passive "hosting" service. Such services, under European law, are exempt from liability for users' infringements, so long as they promptly take down louis vuitton knockoff bags users' offending posts once notified of them.
Last September, following standard ECJ procedures, the authentic louis vuitton for less court's advocate general, Poiares Maduro, issued an interim, advisory opinion. Maduro recommended a ruling largely in Google's favor, finding that neither Google nor its advertisers were violating trademarks. Maduro's opinion, however, is nonbinding on the court.
Tomorrow's ECJ ruling will be final, as there is no higher EU real louis vuitton outlet court for such disputes.
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