German Firm Vows to take Google to Court

German meta search company metaspinner media accused Google of failing to comply with a preliminary injunction issued in Hamburg district court, as the search giant’s trademark-related legal woes continue.

The Hamburg court’s judgment required Google to block bidding on the trademarked term “preispiraten” by its AdWords advertisers until there’s a final decision in the case. But metaspinner says Google has continued to allow advertisers to use the term, and the German firm will now take the case to court. Preispiraten, which translates literally to “price pirates,” is the company’s name for its shopping search tool.

“It shouldn’t be possible that the company’s considerable expenditures to build up the brand ‘Preispiraten’ are exploited and siphoned off by advertising third parties and particularly by Google,” said Stefan Maas, metaspinner media’s attorney.

The news follows a flurry of European action on the trademark front. Last month, French insurance group AXA filed a similar lawsuit. French handbag maker Louis Vuitton is also suing Google in France. Google has long been embroiled in a trademark infringement case brought by a French travel company. That suit is under appeal after Google lost. In Germany, Google has been luckier. The company says it won a ruling from a German court, which said Google shouldn’t be held liable for its advertisers’ actions. (In the U.S., home décor company American Blind and Wallpaper Factory has filed suit against Google.)

“Google should clarify the legal foundation of its AdWords system,” said Christoph Berndt, CEO of metaspinner media.

The trademark troubles come as Google prepares for an initial public offering, in which it hopes to raise $2.7 billion. Google has generally remained mum about its trademark disputes, and it didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time. Still, documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission show it’s aware the issues are far from settled.

“The outcomes of these lawsuits have differed from jurisdiction to jurisdiction,” the document says. “Defending these lawsuits could take time and resources. Adverse results in these lawsuits may result in, or even compel, a change in this practice, which could result in a loss of revenue for us, which could harm our business.”

Google recently revised its trademark policy in the U.S. and Canada, allowing advertisers to bid on trademarked keywords — but not to use those trademarks in ad copy. Elsewhere in the world, the company says its policies are stricter, forbidding bidding on trademarked keywords and the use of trademarks in ad copy.

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