Court Hands Minor Loss to Trademark Owners

In a long-running court case between exercise equipment manufacturers, a judge has determined that one company's purchase of search ad keywords containing the other's trademarks is comparative advertising, and do not dilute the other's trademark.

The case is convoluted, Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman explains at his Technology and Marketing Law blog. Several aspects of the case make it impossible to interpret it as a broad endorsement of bidding on competitors' trademarked keywords, he said, but it might be seen as a minor victory for marketers wishing to bid on trademarked terms.

"In theory, this is significant because trademark owners would love to be able to assert a dilution claim against keyword advertisers along with the standard trademark infringement claim. But given the court's application of the old dilution standard and the few times plaintiffs have raised dilution claims, I'm not sure if this is a critically important case on the topic," Goldman told SEW.