A search engine's sale of trademark terms to third parties to generate search advertisements does not constitute trademark infringement, a district court ruled. The court rejected multiple federal and state, direct and secondary trademark infringement claims against the Google search engine directed against its Adwords advertising program. The court found, among other things, that such sales did not constitute direct trademark infringement, because no reasonable jury could conclude that Google's practice of auctioning trademarks as keywords creates a likelihood of confusion as to the source or origin of the trademark owner's language learning products. In finding that Google lacked any intent to confuse potential purchasers of the plaintiff's trademarked goods, the court commented that the search engine is "akin to a newspaper or magazine selling advertising space."
Rosetta Stone, Ltd v. Google, Inc., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78098 (E.D. Va. Aug. 3, 2010) Download PDF