Friday, July 18, 2008

American Airlines and Google Reach Quiet Settlement in Adword Trademark Infringement Case

I've written before on lawsuits filed by such trademark owners as Rosetta Stone (link here) and Hearts on Fire (link here) against competiting companies that purchased their trademarks as a Google AdWords so that Sponsored Links would appear whenever an internet user would perform a search for those trademarks.

While Rosetta Stone and Hearts on Fire went after the purchasers of the keywords, American Airlines (“AA”) last year filed a similar type of trademark infringement lawsuit only AA went straight to the source of the Adwords and sued Google for the sale of AA’s trademarks as “AdWords.” See prior blogs posts here and here.

The lawsuit had been closely watch by trademark practitioners because many expected that it might go all the way to trial because of AA’s resources to fight the all-mighty Google.

Well, the news came down today that American Airlines and Google have reached a confidential settlement in the case (articles here and here). Thus depriving the trademark world of some additional case law the could have clarified the otherwise confusing jurisprudence (see blog post here) surrounding whether or not the use of another company’s trademark as keywords (either to trigger “sponsored links" or otherwise) constitutes trademark infringement.

Given AA’s reliance upon claims for contributory trademark infringement and vicarious trademark infringement, one wonders if the recent decision in Tiffany v. eBay (blogged here) had anything to do with AA’s sudden decision to settle. Or perhaps AA decided to drop the costly litigation as another cost cutting measure (see news article today about AA's decision to cut 1500 maintenance jobs).

No comments: