Virginia IP Law > Troutman Sanders LLP

Rosetta Stone Challenges Use of Trademark Language Online

Late last month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit heard arguments in a case accusing search giant, Google, of violations of federal and state trademark laws when it sold keyword advertising based on Rosetta Stone’s marks to competitors, some of which market counterfeit goods.

Rosetta Stone alleges a plethora of infringing practices upon Google, including:

  • Google’s practice of auctioning off trademarks to advertisers for use in their Sponsored Link titles and advertisements,
  • Google’s use of trademarks as keyword triggers,
  • Google’s inducement of third party advertisers to bid on trademarks, especially if knowing advertisers are selling counterfeit goods, and
  • Google’s exercise of control over third party text advertisements incorporating trademarks.

At the District Court, Judge Lee granted summary judgment for Google in Rosetta Stone, Ltd., v. Google, Inc., 1:09CV736 (E.D. Va. Aug. 3, 2011), therein stating no reasonable trier of fact could find consumer confusion in the use of Rosetta Stone’s trademarks in Google’s Sponsored Links, and that trademark-based keyword indexing is purely a functional and non-infringing use.

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