It all started when Geico sued Google on the issue of allowing keywords that Geico claimed were protected by trademark to trigger sponsored ads by the competition. Now in the latest of suits involving this ongoing issue, Check ‘n Go has sued Google in federal court in Ohio, stating that the search engine permits other payday lenders to purchase ads that appear when the trademarked phrase “check n go” is typed in. In their suit, they have asked a federal court to halt the practice.
“Google is enriched by the misappropriation” of the trademark, CNG said in court documents filed Jan. 24. “Consumers may click on the links to the competitors of Check ‘n Go (and) may not realize that they have unwittingly ‘clicked’ on a competitor’s Web site.”
These cases always interest me because I myself have disputed with Google over competitors using our trademarked name “SearchRank” to trigger ads. They provided absolutely no help in my case so when I saw last year that a a French court had ruled that Google must stop using the trademarks of European resort chain Le Meridien Hotels and Resorts to trigger keyword ads, I was overjoyed to say the least. Of course that was France and this is America where we have yet to see any real conclusion to this issue.
I am confident that this will not be the last law suit we will see over this issue. As more and more large companies find competitors using their federally protected trademarks to trigger ads that work against them, Google’s policy will continue to be challenged. It is my hope that eventually the law will be better defined to protect the trademarks of not only large companies like Geico and Check ‘n Go but smaller ones like mine as well.