Thursday 7 February 2013

How to Avoid Confusion in Keyword Advertising

This is not an advertisement for trademarks showing up on your screen
Google's Keyword Advertising service offers displaying advertisements in little boxes on the right-hand side of the search results if the search includes particular keywords while the keyword is still visible as typed in Google's search field. If the advertisements contain informations on goods and services available on clicking thereon and the keyword is a registered trademark, the trademark will be displayed togehter with the goods and services on the same screen. Captious trademark attorneys might argue that in the case the combined display on  the same screen consititutes an unallowed use of the trademark. In the decision "Bananabay II", the BGH had decided that this use did not constitute an identical use of the trademark (Art. 5(1)(a) of the trademark directive  89/104/EEC) as long as the advertisement itself is clearly separated from the search results, marked as advertisement and does not contain the the registered trademark or any hints to the products of the trademark owner but rather a link hinting towards a different commercial origin of the products or services.

The question whether or not this use might ocnstitute an infringement of (Art. 5(1)(b) of the trademark directive  89/104/EEC) in that a likelihood of confusion on a part of the public, which includes the likelihood of association between the sign and the trade mark is created, was still open.

In the decision MOST-Pralinen answered this question to the negative. Under the conditions develpoend in "Bananabay II" (advertisement in a separate box, advertisement itself does not contain the trademark), neither a likelihood of confution nor a likelikood of association exists.

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