The world of Internet law has been on fire with major rulings in the last few months, with every crucial decision seemingly raising as many thorny legal questions as it answers. Tuesday’s biggie: The European Union’s highest court has ruled that Google (represented by Herbert Smith) does not infringe on trademarks when it sells company names and other trademarked phrases to competitors of those companies for advertising purposes, according to The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.
The lead plaintiff in the case, the ultralitigious (in the area of Internet law and trademarks, anyway), LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, had charged Google with infringing on its trademarks by selling trademarked phrases to sellers of counterfeit luxury goods. The company feared that such sellers could buy the rights to advertise along the side of search results that show up when a Google user types in “Louis Vuitton” or other trademarked names, according to the AP and the WSJ. The luxury goods maker won a similar case in the EU last month against the online auctioneer eBay; in that case, LVMH charged that eBay paid search engines like Google for the right to have eBay links pop up in ads next to search results those search engines produce when users type in common misspellings of company names. As we’ve reported, LVMH claimed counterfeit sellers buy the right to have their ads pop up when users misspell words such as “Vuitton.”
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