23 November 2009

Keyword advertising actionable under privacy law?


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Debates on the use of keywords that equate registered trade marks have brought  new challenges for legal professionals. As well-known, the majority of lawsuits on keywords advertising were based on alleged trade marks infringement.

However, the courts’ ambivalent treatment of such trade marks proprietors’ claims (see Google AdWords Litigation update for the US and Advocate General  Poiares Maduro’s opinion on Google’s AdWords to the ECJ for Europe) might have brought a Wisconsin law firm to observe this set of problems through a different angle.

Representatives of Habush, Habush & Rottier have discovered that when their law firm’s name is sought over internet searching engines, the name of Cannon & Dunphy, a rival law firm, showed up. Accordingly, Habush have filed an action against the rival who does not even deny the purchase of a keyword containing claimant’s name. However, whether based on reasons stated above or not, Habush is not willing to rely on trade marks law, but on Wisconsin’s law on privacy.

In my view a really promising case. We will see as to whether it will bring some freshness into the keyword advertising complexity.