Do Trademark Holders Have the Right to a Google Listing?



Google’s not unused to being sued. Whether it’s because of trademark infringements, AdWords, or simply being kicked out its natural search engine, Google has seen it all.

Now it’s seeing it all in one law suit–and there’s an added twist!

Ascentive is claiming–among other things–that "Google’s refusal to list Ascentive’s website in its natural search result listings violates the Lanham Act." I have no idea what that means, but fortunately Eric Goldman does:

The complaint doesn’t explain this allegation thoroughly, but the theory seems to be that consumers expect to see the trademark owner in organic search results for the trademark and therefore consumers will be actionably confused if the trademark owner doesn’t appear there.

How’s that for grasping at straws? It seems as though this complaint is a non-starter, but that may not stop some naive judge from agreeing with the plaintiff–at least in the lower courts.

What do you think? Has Google become so dominant that it has a legal obligation to index the web site of an official trademark holder?

(hat-tip)

  • http://www.paulcampagna.com paul

    what a waste of time and money. If you want your name to appear at the top, then do the optimization to get the thing at the top! Don’t just assume because your a big company, that you don’t have to do the work that everyone else has to do to get the rankings.

    I’m at the top when you type in my name and it took work to get there.

  • http://www.terryhoward.net/ Terry Howard

    You have to be a special kind of dumb to not rank for your own brand name. I think you would have to actually try to create that situation, unless your name is like “Product Co.” or something very generic. Instead of spending money on lawyers, Ascentive needs to fire their entire marketing staff and hire some people who have a shred of ability.

    Terry Howard’s last blog post..Social Media Marketing: Network Responsibly

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