Google Faces Another Lawsuit

A German court is set to hear oral arguments in a trademark suit against Google next week, as the search giant faces yet another legal challenge to its AdWords keyword advertising program.

Google has already been sued in France and the U.S. by parties claiming that AdWords, which lets advertisers bid on keywords to place ads, allows others to profit from their trademarks.

Metaspinner Media GmbH, which runs a comparison shopping site, is suing Google for infringing on its "Preispiraten" trademark, which means roughly "price pirates." Metaspinner already won a preliminary injunction against Google last November and is seeking a permanent injunction and damages, says Petra Bosbach, a lawyer for Metaspinner.

The oral hearing is due to take place in the Hamburg district court on Tuesday and an agreement might be reached at that time. If not, the proceedings will move to the next stage and the court will decide whether to order the permanent injunction, she says.

Metaspinner has submitted information about similar cases filed against Google, but it is not clear whether the German court will take them into consideration, Bosbach says.

Similar Cases

Earlier this year, for instance, Michigan-based American Blind & Wallpaper Factory, sued Google arguing that it infringed upon its trademark by allowing competing retailers to bid on similar words such as "American Blind" or "American Blinds." Google, based in Mountain View, California, has also been sued in France by Louis Vuitton Malletier and insurance group AXA Advisors, among others.

Metaspinner is arguing that third parties, and Google in particular, benefit from the money it has spent to build up the Preispiraten brand. Third parties pay to use the name as a keyword to get a high ranking, and Google is reimbursed for the advertising, according to Metaspinner.

"Preispiraten means getting goods at a really good price, perhaps the best price, and it is a strong brand," Bosbach says.

Google does not comment on pending litigation, a representative says.

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