Rosetta Stone asked the court to stop Google from allowing other firms — including competitors — to use its trademarks to sell ads associated with online searches.
“Google and its advertisers benefit financially from and trade off the goodwill and reputation of Rosetta Stone without incurring the substantial expense that Rosetta Stone has incurred in building up its popularity, name recognition and brand loyalty,” Michael Wu, general counsel of Rosetta Stone, said in a statement.
We talked about this potential tsunami of trademark concerns when Google announced its plans to allow advertisers to use other trademarked names in their ads. At the crux of the issue according to trademark experts is whether consumers are being confused by the ads. In other words, are they being duped? Of course they are. They’re consumers. Marketers are trying to ‘convince’ people to use their version of whatever product and they’ll usually do whatever they can to that end.
“That’s where things are unclear,” Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman said. “There’s not a lot of social science explaining what consumers think when they do search and if there is consumer confusion.”
Let’s get this straight. Google is opening up this area for more revenue. It’s pretty simple. One would have to suspect that they did a pretty significant analysis of how many lawsuits would potentially arise from this and what the payout might be. Weigh that against the higher revenue from more paid search advertisers and Google will say that this policy won’t do any evil. It’ll just make more money.
What’s your feeling about this policy that Google enacted in June (which was already in place at Yahoo and Microsoft, by the way)? Should companies just learn to live with it and take the extra brand recognition or should there be complete ownership of certain trademarked terms by the trademark owners? Do you think Google even really cares?