While Google and Louis Vuitton are currently fighting a pretty pointless a PR-battle over how to interpret the Cour de Cassation’s decision to refer the case back to the court of second instance, I was very surprised to read following announcement by Google:
The AdWords policy prohibiting the deceptive use of business names is currently in effect in Australia and New Zealand, and will be expanded to apply to all countries around mid-July. This policy prohibits advertisements that imply an affiliation, partnership, or special relationship with unrelated third parties, and aims to ensure that users are not misled about the businesses advertised in our text ads. After the new policy goes into effect, the relevant policy page will be updated to reflect this change.
Posted on July 1, 2010
In the light of the recent ECJ judgements and the crucial question of whether users are to assume an economical connection between the advertiser and the proprietor of a trademark, this change of policy seems to be clear step towards avoiding any possible (unwanted) assumptions. The policy change ad hand only affects business names but I wonder if or better when, the same ratio could or better will be applied for trademarks…
Already in the past Google has demonstrated how fast it is able to adapt its AdWords policy in response to national court decisions. For example it only took Google three month after the Royal Court of Justice’s decision on Mr. Spicy (1HC 710/07, Mr Spicy, EWHC 361 (Ch)) in February 2008 before the UK and Ireland in May 2008 were added to the list of countries with a lower level of trademark protection (Google wording: “Regions in which we investigate the use in ad text only“, or “the 194” in the chart below).
Google’s move, which will, from mid-July on, forbid the deceptive use of business names for all countries/regions worldwide, could however also be interpreted as kind of admitting the possibility of deceptive uses of business names in the past.