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.