Competitive Keyword Bidding: France Loses Its Mind
Ian Lurie Feb 9 2009
Corporate Eye has a post today about two French companies who are suing Google.
The reason? Google has allowed competitors to bid on terms for which the two companies hold trademarks.
I’ve ranted about this before, so I won’t belabor it now. Instead, let’s try a few hypotheticals:
Let’s say you’re BMW and you want to, I dunno, compare your car to other makes and models. Does the use of their trademarked terms in your comparison mean you’ve violated trademark law?
What if you have a TV commercial comparing your car to other makes and models? Is that a trademark violation?
A newspaper ad?
What if you buy advertising in a magazine on the page opposite a competitor. Does that violate trademarks?
If you prevent bidding on competitive trademarked terms, you prevent one of the most basic forms of competition: Explaining why you’re better. Plus, it opens the door for companies to sue any time competitors use their trademarked terms are used in media.
I’d like to hope that courts around the world will eventually figure this out, and force litigious clients to find another way to get their legal rocks off. For now, though, it appears French attorneys have found a great way to pad their hours…
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More