EU court's online ad ruling pleases Google and LVMH

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EU court's online ad ruling pleases Google and LVMH

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A legal ruling on Google’s advertising practice has both the Internet giant and a commercial plaintiff claiming victory.

The European Court of Justice has said Google did not infringe trademark law by selling keywords to trigger ads. International luxury French fashion house Louis Vuitton and others had said the practice undermined their brands.

The high status goods purveyor welcomed the court’s decision as firmly establishing the liability of advertisers.

LVMH Vice-President Pierre Godé said: “It’s fantastic progress. Google argued it was perfectly all right for the advertiser to buy [a keyword] without being responsible to brands owned by others. The court decided to the contrary.”

The court said advertisers were free to buy keywords identical to trademarks of rivals as long as the ads were clear about where the product came from. Google counsel had said trademark rights are not absolute.

Google spokesman Bill Echikson said: “It is premature to actually say what the impact on the business will be, whether there are any changes.”

The European Brands Association said the ruling confirms trademark rights online and holds sellers of keywords liable for illicit material, such as counterfeit goods.