US judge refuses to dismiss Google trademark suit

Thu Apr 19, 2007 1:40am EDT

(Adds Google comment)

SAN FRANCISCO, April 18 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge refused on Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit against Google Inc. (GOOG.O) that charges the Web search leader's AdWords program abuses trademarks.

In making his decision to allow the case to move forward, U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel ruled the public has an interest in whether AdWords, the company's popular pay-per-click advertising system, violates U.S. trademark law.

American Blind & Wallpaper Factory Inc., the top U.S. reseller of window blinds, charged in its lawsuit that Google abuses trademarks by allowing rivals of a company to buy ads that appear when consumers search the Web for information on that business.

Google has prevailed in two prior trademark suits filed against its pay-per-click ads. Auto insurer GEICO lost a federal case in Virginia, and computer repair site Rescuecom lost a similar federal case, but is appealing.

The latest ruling granted some claims while rejecting others in Google's motion for summary judgment, which asked the judge to dismiss American Blind's trademark infringement claims against Google's AdWords ad-selling program.

"The large number of businesses and users affected by Google's AdWords program indicates that a significant public interest exists in determining whether the AdWords program violates trademark law," Fogel wrote in his decision.

A Google spokesman said the company still has a motion for sanctions against American Blinds pending before Magistrate Judge Richard Seeborg, in the same federal court, alleging that American Blinds failed to disclose key evidence.

"Judge Fogel rightfully concluded that they did not prove that two of their marks are protectable, and we are confident that they will be unable to prove their remaining claims at trial," Michael Kwun, Google's litigation counsel said in a statement.

(Additional reporting by Eric Auchard)

((Reporting by Michael Kahn, editing by J.S. Benkoe/Braden Reddall; Reuters Messaging: rm://michael.kahn.reuters.com@reuters.net; e-mail: michael.kahn@reuters.com; Tel: +1 415-677-2511)) Keywords: GOOGLE LAWSUIT/

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