Sat, Oct. 27, 2007

Trademark As Bait in Adwords

CK - Washington.   The use of competitors' trademarks in meta-tags of web sites and in adword advertising on search engines has led to many court decisions in Germany. The issue is settled for trademarks in meta-tags because the Supreme Court, Bundesgerichtshof, in Karlsruhe ruled such use improper, Impuls, GRUR 2007, 65.

For adword advertising, confusion reigns. A new Cologne decision published by Telemedicus approves of such use because the customer using at search results does not connect the search results with the advertising triggered by the trademark. In other words, such use is no use in terms of German trademark law, the appellate court determined in the matter 6 U 48/07 on August 31, 2007. The last word on the issue may come from the Supreme Court.

In addition to trademark law, the Cologne court also explored whether the adword trigger would constitute a violation of competition law. It states that marketing to customers of competitors is the essence of competition and not per se improper. The use of trademarks in adwords is not unfair nor does it mislead visitors of search engine sites, the court explains.

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