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August 21, 2007

American Airlines Sues Google Over Trademark in Ads

American Airlines is suing Google over sales of its name to third parties as part of Google's ad program.  American doesn't like the idea that a search for it's name brings competitor listings up as part of a paid search.  Courts have been all over the place on this one.  A simple search for American Airlines in Google brings up listings immediately for American in the general search listings, with clearly identified "sponsor links" for Mexicana Airlines, Cheap Air Tickets, American Airline Guide, and two other sites offering cheap tickets.  For the record, a similar search in Yahoo brings up three non-AA competitor sites as sponsored results.  Microsoft Live Search brings up five non-AA sites as part of its sponsored searches. 

The other search engines using sponsored links should be thankful that Google is the target.  Depending on the outcome, all they have to do is react rather than litigate.  At the same time, it must be a bit disconcerting that Google's legal responses will ultimately drive the precedent in search business conduct.

The suit was filed in the Northern District of Texas at Fort Worth.  AA has a main hub in Dallas.  More on this in ComputerWorld.

August 21, 2007 | Permalink

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