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30 March 2011

Ninth Circuit clarifies test for keyword advertising cases

In Network Automation Inc v Advanced Systems Concepts Inc, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has held that, in the internet context, the well-known Sleekcraft likelihood of confusion factors needed to be applied in a flexible manner, focusing on the overall impression created by the use of the trademark in the context of the search results page and the sophistication of the internet user.

23 February 2011

Nearly $300,000 awarded to plaintiff in keyword case against competitor

In Binder v Disability Group Inc, the US District Court for the Central District of California has held that the use of the plaintiff’s registered trademark by a competitor to trigger advertisements linking to the competitor’s website constituted trademark infringement, false advertising and unfair competition. The court awarded $292,000 in damages to the plaintiff.

18 February 2011

US government tightens grip on counterfeiters, but not without controversy

Earlier this week the US government seized 18 more domain names from websites selling counterfeit goods. The action was part of the ongoing Operation In Our Sites campaign, waged by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Popular with brand owners, the programme provokes high-level controversy – this week the US Senate reopened the debate over the bill that could make domain name seizures more commonplace.

03 February 2011

Contributory cybersquatting and trademark dilution are valid causes of action

In Microsoft Corporation v Shah, the US District Court for the Western District of Washington has recognised two novel causes of action for contributory cybersquatting and contributory trademark dilution. The court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss because both cybersquatting and trademark dilution are “tort-like cause[s] of action” that naturally lend themselves to the theory of contributory liability.

01 February 2011

Keywords attract 11 million visits to fake sportswear sites

As gridiron fans limber up for the Super Bowl this weekend and sports brand owners build anti-counterfeiting strategies to fight the fake goods aimed at sports fans, new data shows that keyword ads pose a real threat to genuine goods. Over one-quarter of sponsored search results promoting sportswear are suspected of offering counterfeits, driving an estimated 11 million annual visits.

15 December 2010

Verizon, HP and RadioShack take on Apple in new keywords war

While disputes over Google's AdWords policy rage on, Verizon, HP and RadioShack each appear to have paid Twitter to promote their messages whenever a user searches for the term 'Apple'. Is Twitter set to become the new trademark battleground?

07 December 2010

Google knew its billion-dollar trademark policy changes confused consumers

Newly unredacted court documents reveal that Google was aware in 2004 that use of trademarks in sponsored link text resulted in a "high" degree of consumer confusion, with 94% of users confused “at least once” during the company’s own study. The papers, filed by Rosetta Stone in its ongoing appeal, also disclose that Google had predicted that the policy change that allowed for the use of trademarks in sponsored links could result in an additional $1 billion in revenue for the search engine.

30 November 2010

Weighing up the seizure of dodgy domain names by the US government

The US government has come up with a new approach to online IP rights enforcement - seizure of the domain names connected to websites that infringe IP rights. Last week, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency did just that, taking out 82 domain names and replacing the original websites to which they pointed with a frightening message from the government. But is it the best way to enforce IP rights online?

25 November 2010

US business lobby defends controversial online infringement bill

It is an insult to suggest that the proposed Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act amounts to internet censorship, as has been suggested by the bill's opponents, a spokesman for the US Chamber of Commerce has told WTR.

24 November 2010

Trademark register and web usernames to dovetail in new search service

The number one trademark filer in the United States has launched a new service that ties social network username registration to the trademark register. The move will help to drive the debate about the extent to which online locators such domain names and social network usernames will compete with trademarks in terms of importance.

16 November 2010

Ninth Circuit broadens ACPA's scope

In DSPT International v Nahum, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has broadened the protections available to trademark holders under the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act by extending liability to individuals who hold domain names for ransom, even if those domain names were originally registered and initially used in a legitimate manner.

12 October 2010

New bill may not end cybersquatting but does send a warning to ICANN

While Senator Leahy’s proposed Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act will not automatically put an end to cybersquatting, participants at the Online Brand Abuse and Internet Governance Forum have argued the proposed law sends out a warning to ICANN prior to negotiations over the renewal of its charter.

21 September 2010

Importance of substantiating UDRP complaints highlighted

In GrubHub Inc v Nelson, the National Arbitration Forum has refused to order the cancellation of the domain name '', finding that complainant GrubHub Inc had failed to establish any of the three elements required under the UDRP. The decision underlines the importance of meticulously drafting and substantiating UDRP complaints, especially where there is no blatant case of cybersquatting.

16 September 2010

Bloodthirsty trademark protection services see dollar signs in social media

Trademark conference exhibition halls have become gladiatorial arenas in which non-legal trademark service providers battle each other with plasma screens and soft furnishings. This situation is the natural result of a pervasive internet, which invites innovative business models around the challenges trademark owners face daily. The new battleground is social network usernames, which could become as burdensome as domain names.

07 September 2010

Google investigation must consider trademarks and AdWords

The news that Google is being investigated on antitrust concerns is perhaps not surprising, but the fact that regulators may study Google's keywords policies certainly is. However, the possibility that it will consider the impact of AdWords policies – set to change in Europe next week – is why trademark owners should watch this investigation unfold.