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Google should assure that their keywords don't infringe trademarks of others: Delhi HC

Legal Correspondent: K. Praveen Kumar

November 12th, 2021: DRS Logistics, Agarwal Packers & Movers' parent company, filed a complaint against Google India, Google LLC, and Just Dial, seeking that they abstain from using or permitting others to use its trademark and variations as keywords. DRS Logistics stated that when a user searched for Agarwal Packers & Movers, Google's services enabled numerous third-party organisations to run infringing advertisements on the search engine. This was redirecting traffic away from Agarwal Packers and Movers and onto the advertiser's website.

Google’s Reply

Google stated that advertisers chose terms and that, as a mediator, the company could not be held liable for such violation. It further suggested that Agarwal Packers & Movers should take its complaints to the advertiser rather than Google.

Main Problem

Google analyses a trademark as a keyword in the European Union (EU) but not in India.

The Supreme Court has asked Google to investigate a complaint about web traffic being diverted to an imposter's site by using a trademark as a keyword on the search engine, calling the internet giant's lack of policy fairness into question.

Court order

"Allowing advertisers to choose a trademarked term or interspersing it with other generic words in the ad-title or ad-text is an infringement", according to Delhi High Court Justice V. Kameswar Rao.

Such a method redirects traffic from the trademark owner's web page to the advertiser's, leveraging the original owner's goodwill, and should be investigated by Google. Since commercials are considered "free speech," the court found that they cannot infringe on a trademark owner's trademark because this would result in a deceptive advertisement.

The court observed that it was unclear why Google made a distinction between various nations in terms of trademark regulations developed and implemented, noting that Google had a higher duty of care in the EU and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

This was, however, a prima facie conclusion of the suit.


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