French court strikes blow against Google AdWords

Things are not looking up for Google in the French courts it would appear. Ars Technica is reporting that Google is being sued over the use of Trademarked words being used in an Adwords search without express consent. Google has stood by their position with no sign of backing down.

A French court has ruled against Google in a lawsuit filed by a French resort chain over the search company’s AdWords. As a result, Google can no longer use the trademarks of Le Meridien Hotels and Resorts for its keyword ads. The French chain had sued Google, claiming that Google’s practice of allowing their rivals to bid on keywords related to its name and trademarks was harmful to its business. The court gave Google until Monday to quit linking ads or face a €150-per-day fine. In addition, they must remove all Le Meridien-related ads with 72 hours of being notified by the resort chain of violations.

For its part, Google is disappointed with the decision and plans to appeal.

“We will continue to defend against this suit, which we believe is without merit,” [a Google] representative said.

The company has faced similar lawsuits in the US, most notably from insurance company Geico. In that case, Geico alleged that Google’s search-related advertising violated its trademarks. A US District Court found otherwise, saying that using keywords to trigger advertising does not constitute trademark infringement. However, Google did wind up on the wrong end of a similar lawsuit from Louis Vuitton in France and faces other, similar legal battles. The Le Meridien ruling appears to be narrow, meaning it only enjoins the company from selling AdWords related to that chain. At the same time, it essentially gives every other company in France the green light to file similar suits.