By Mark Sweney: The European Court of Justice (ECJ) today ruled in favour of Google (NSDQ: GOOG) in a long-running court battle with Louis Vuitton over the use of the luxury goods company’s trademarked brand names in search advertising.
However, the ECJ added the caveat that companies that use trademarked brand keywords to push sales must be more transparent about who the seller is.
Louis Vuitton, which is part of the LVMH group of brands including Moet & Chandon and Dior, had argued that Google was acting illegally by allowing other companies to bid for and use its brand names as keywords to trigger ads on its website.
Lawyers had viewed the legal battle, which has been going on for years, as potentially critical to Google as the search engine giant’s business model has been built on the back of its AdWords system.
“Google has not infringed trademark law by allowing advertisers to purchase keywords corresponding to their competitors’ trademarks,” said the ECJ today.
“Advertisers themselves, however, cannot, by using such keywords, arrange for Google to display ads which do not allow internet users easily to establish from which undertaking the goods or services covered by the ad in question originate,” added the ECJ.
The ECJ added that France’s highest court, the Cour de Cassation, will have the final say on a “case by case basis” on whether there is an “adverse effect, or a risk thereof, on the function of indicating origin”.
The court also said that the decision on whether Google is liable over client data it stores on its servers
This article originally appeared in Â© Guardian News & Media Ltd..