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Google's European Challenge

February 23, 2010 (PAP Newswire) – Google and other major online marketing brands have been facing some tough criticism from European markets recently. In the wake of a ruling in which the French judicial system determined that eBay infringed on the Louis Vuitton trademark, many experts are preparing for the next major European/online business showdown: On the 23rd of March, the highest court in Europe is scheduled to rule on a number of cases involving Google’s online advertising juggernaut, Google AdWords.

“Brand owners, including Louis Vuitton’s owner, are fighting Google France in three separate actions, each arguing that their trade mark rights are infringed when other businesses use their names as triggers for [ads],” writes John Mackenzie at the online marketing legal blog.

Regardless of one’s position on what’s right and what’s wrong, it’s certain that the case is revealing some huge differences in the European and American copyright systems. “Courts in the U.S. have said, in most cases, that you can sponsor another company’s brand name as a keyword in Google AdWords,” Mackenzie continues.

The European judges are meeting with a special advisor to offer market insight regarding the upcoming case, and other cases similar to it. This Advocate General usually influences the opinion of the larger court, and so far the Advocate General in this situation “supports an open market for keywords. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that approach is more popular than an alternative that gives owners of global brands a high level of control over how others can use those brands.” Read MacKenzie’s article here.

Dramatic as it seems, the next weeks may indeed reveal much of the future of online marketing in Europe. If Google is seen to be overstepping its boundaries there, as was the case with the eBay ruling, it may have to completely restructure its AdWords concept. And that would likely create difficulties for online and affiliate marketers doing business in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres.