March 25, 2010 (CAP Newswire) – In a major win for online marketing and search engine powerhouse Google, a high court in the EU has ruled that the California-based company is legally within its rights to sell ads that link to searches for other, non-affiliated brand names.
The ruling is a resent of a lawsuit brought against Google by Louis Vutton, which claimed that Google’s policies unfairly infringed trademarks and “promoted the sale of counterfeit goods on the Internet,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
The complaint was based on the fundamental advertising set-up offered by Google AdWords, which lets marketers purchase ads that will appear when a user searches for another company’s brand. In the case of Louis Vutton, the company was fighting against the fact that when online shoppers searched for its brand, other companies’ advertisements were legally allowed to appear.
“The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled that Google isn’t liable for trademark infringement when it sells linked ads to a brand’s competitor,” the Wall Street Journal article continues. “The court held that the search giant is merely a host for ads and that it is an advertiser’s responsibility to make clear if its product is different from that searched for.”
It’s a decision that’s almost certain to set a broad precedence in the EU, and maybe farther afield. What’s it mean for affiliate marketing in Europe? It means that affiliates can safely continue to target whatever brands they choose in their Google AdWords campaign; so, in short, business as usual for the foreseeable future.
“The ruling was the first time a court as high as the EU’s Court of Justice has ruled on the legality of Google’s AdWords. The court’s opinions apply to all 27 European member countries,” the Wall Street Journal article adds, also noting that the ruling applies to all other search engines, such as Yahoo and Bing.
Not everyone is happy with the ruling. Read why MarketingWeek is calling it a “major blow for brands” here.