*Does Google AdWord’s Trademark Policy impair Freedom of Speech?

Joris van Hoboken posted the link to a CNet article by Chris Soghoian which describes how the AdWord’s trademark policy stopped displaying ads on Google in which informed users, who searched on Google for Brandt Hershman, a  state senator in Indiana, that this senator had received money from a well known brand (AT&T). Soghojan obviously dislikes Hershman and searched for a way to communicate to the public that the senator had received money from corporations (there are public lists about that issue in the US) which might have influenced him in his decisions…etc. Fair enough!

Picture 2

Sample Side-Ad created by Austrotrabant

Two more examples:

  • A labor rights group that wished to place an ad stating that “Wal-Mart [let’s say “Schlecker” here] forbids its employees from unionizing,” whenever someone searched for the phrase “minimum wage.”
  • A public-interest group that wished to place an ad stating that “The RIAA [let’s say Sony Music, AKM, AUSTROMECHANA, etc.] has filed over 30,000 lawsuits against Internet users, many of whom were children, elderly, or even dead,” whenever a Google user searched for the words “file sharing.”

When reading the article I was wondering what the situation would be like in Austria for such a case… I haven’t reached a conclusion yet… but I really think that is an interesting idea especially as Google AdWords is a private entity and thus under no obligation to enter into a contract with me. Secondly I’ve invested 99,9% of all my research time thinking “into the other direction”, (trademark law, law of unfair competition) so that I find this view onto things really, really interesting.


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