While most lawsuits involving trademarks and search engine advertising identify the search companies as defendants, CNET recently covered a lawsuit between two competitors that sell identity theft protection services. Namesafe, sued Lifelock in the federal district court of Tennessee for trademark infringement and is seeking damages, attorney's fees and an injunction against Lifelock.
The ads in question:
- Were triggered by the trademarked term 'Namesafe'
- Contained the term 'Namesafe' in the title of the ad text
The search engines all have processes in the US that allow trademark owners to request that the trademark term not be allowed in ad text (or titles). Namesafe claims that they attempted to utilize these channels but had no success and the lawsuit was their only recourse. We've mentioned in the past the giant holes that exist in these filters anyway.
Lifelock asserts that they did not buy the ads themselves, but that one of their affiliates purchased the ads. I expect this case to be settled, however it would be very interesting to see it ruled.
Either way, it is becoming increasingly important for merchants to police their affiliates.
Thanks to SearchEngineLand for the pointer.