In this month’s update we report on a recent Chancery verdict which said that Yahoo! was not infringing a registered trade mark “Mr Spicy” by selling the word “spicy” as a search engine keyword to a supermarket brand. Some said the finding turned on its own facts, involved a defendant who argued his own case and should not necessarily be relied on as putting key word vendors completely in the clear in these cases. Nevertheless, in a development that is unlikely to be unrelated to the “Mr. Spicy” case, Google has recently announced a radical liberalisation of its policy on sale of keywords. The change brings Google UK policy into line with its approach in the US. Watch out for more reports on marketinglaw and catch the Google announcement.
Text of message distributed early April 2008 by Google UK
We're writing to inform you that we're changing our trademark complaint procedure in the UK and Ireland. This change may affect how we handle the trademark complaint you currently have on file with Google.
If you've submitted a complaint letter requesting that we prevent advertisers from using certain trademark terms anywhere in their ad text, we will continue our efforts to support your request. However, from May 5, 2008, our trademark complaint investigations will no longer result in Google monitoring or restricting keywords for ads served to users in the UK and Ireland. This will bring our procedure in line with the approach taken in the US and Canada. Complaints received on or after today will be processed under our revised procedure.
You do not need to file your trademark complaint with us again unless you would like to amend it based on the new guidelines. For more detailed information regarding our trademark complaint procedure, we invite you to review our revised complaint procedure, posted online at http://www.google.co.uk/tm_complaint.html.
To learn more about this trademark policy revision, please visit http://adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=92877&hl=en_US.
Advertising Legal Support Team