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Lawyers Losing Trademark Policing Battle

ClickZ reports from the the Association of National Advertiser’s Law and Business Affairs conference in New York. One of the hot topics was the effective policing of trademarks and how attorneys are having to pick and choose their battles – especially when it comes to web infringement.

Try to go after every violation, they say, and you’ll burn through your budget in minutes flat…Search giant Google is the recurrent demon invoked in most legal discussions involving trademark infringement. AdWords was the original bogeyman, and attorneys have been consistently frustrated by the mostly free pass they believe Google has been handed by U.S. courts allowing the company to sell advertising against trademarked keywords.

Net Neutrality Bill in US Senate

In the wake of AT&T’s big merger, Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) have introduced a Net Neutrality bill into the Senate. Called the “Internet Freedom Preservation Act,” the bill is designed to prevent service providers from creating a two-tiered Internet or forcing subscribers to bundle broadband with other services.

What does this really mean for Net Neutrality? Not much—yet. On the one hand, it’s a positive since it’s clearly on the minds of senators (or they think it’s on our minds).

However, there’s a lot to go through before this can really make any headway.

Crash course in US federal lawmaking for those of us who can’t remember the School House Rock song:

  • The bill is introduced. This one was read twice on the Senate floor and then:

New Court Ruling Favors Those Bidding on Trademarked Keywords

Eric Goldman breaks-down a recent court ruling that appears to allow the use of trademarked keywords in sponsored ads. Focusing mostly on using trademarks for keyword “bids” and not ad creative, the court ruled that merely bidding on a trademark term is not enough to confuse a consumer.

The court holds that, as a matter of law, the use of keyword-triggered ads and keyword metatags cannot confuse consumers if the resulting ads/search results don’t display the plaintiff’s trademarks. Given the inconsistencies of past rulings, I simply don’t believe that this case will be the final word on the matter. However, if other courts follow this conclusion, we would see a reduction in the quantity of silly litigation over keyword advertising and keyword metatags.

Brazil Wants to Shut Down YouTube

A court in Brazil has just ordered the shut down of Google’s YouTube for failing to remove a celebrity sex video from the site.

Daniela Cicarelli, a model and ex-wife of soccer great Ronaldo, sued YouTube after a video of her apparently having sex in shallow water on a beach with her boyfriend was posted to the site.

While Google may not have to obey the ruling – as they are a U.S. based company – the search engine has already shown they’ll bend to the ruling of foreign courts, so it will be interesting to see how they handle this one.

Meanwhile, Cicarelli may wish to either…

a. think twice about having sex in public

b. speak to Paris Hilton and hear how a leaked sex video can re-ignite a career

Google, Apple, Napster Sued for Video Patent Infringement

It’s a new year and a new law suit for Google. This time, the world’s largest search engine is joined by Apple and Napster as they face allegations of patent infringement from online movie distributor Intertainer Inc.

Intertainer, claiming it has suffered irreparable harm, asked the court for cash compensation and an order to prevent the companies from using its technology.

Intertainer’s patent was issued in August 2005 and covers a “digital entertainment service platform”. According to their web site, Intertainer counts Intel, Comcast and NBC among its investors, and this is not the first time the company has taken on the big guys.

In September 2002…

Tracking Net Neutrality

I just discovered CNET’s nice timeline of the battles won and lost in the name of net neutrality. They also do a great job of summarizing what the heck “net neutrality” means.

Network operators [such as Verizon] want to charge Internet content providers for enhanced IP services, while Net neutrality proponents [Google, eBay etc] say regulations are needed to prevent abuse by the Net’s gatekeepers.

Net Neutrality Wins Small Victory in AT&T/Bell South Deal

The FCC has approved the $86 billion mega-merger of AT&T and Bell South, after AT&T agreed to a number of concessions, including an important one on the issue of net neutrality.

One of the most important concessions is AT&T’s commitment to a basic set of principles that establish a practical implementation of Net neutrality. Specifically, it agreed “not to provide or to sell to Internet content, application, or service providers, including those affiliated with AT&T/BellSouth, any service that privileges, degrades or prioritizes any packet transmitted over AT&T/BellSouth’s wireline broadband Internet access service based on its source, ownership or destination.”

This is not the end of the whole net neutrality battle, but AT&T’s concession is certainly a small battle won for the likes of Google, Yahoo et al.