American Airlines has dropped its trademark infringement lawsuit against the all-powerful Google Inc. The lawsuit stemmed from the fact that the search engine allows search terms like “AAdvantage,” the trademark name of its frequent flier program, to be linked competitors’ sites that have no connection with American. If there was ever any doubt that Google sells out “proper” net searches to the highest bidder, let that doubt be forever melted away.
The AP article says,
Each side agreed to pay its own legal fees, and American recovered nothing from Google, according to an order signed by Judge John McBryde.
American was upset that when Google users entered search terms such as AAdvantage, the trademark name of its frequent-flier program, the results included Web sites that had no connection to American.
The airline said the results could confuse consumers and divert customers from its own Web site.
Google compared its policy to grocery stores that give shoppers a coupon for Minute Maid orange juice if they buy Tropicana, or magazines that publish a Ford ad on the page opposite from a story about Chevrolets.
“Of course they are seeking to ‘hijack’ or ‘divert’ consumers who have indicated an interest in their competitors’ products,” Google lawyers wrote in a motion seeking to dismiss the lawsuit. As long as the companies don’t falsely identify a product or service, it’s legal, they said.
The Internet company has settled similar cases brought by other U.S. companies, including those brought by insurer Geico and retailer American Blind & Wallpaper Factory Inc., but lost cases in France.
Because what Google is doing does not meet the legal definition of false advertising, they seem to be in the legal clear to associate whatever keywords they want to whomever they want. Do consumers want search results that are unrelated to our search terms? No, but we will undoubtedly continue to use Google anyway, since they are the virtual god of the Internet, and they know it.