Clearer waters: Rosetta Stone v Google continues


Vanessa Hew and Terry Parker

Clearer waters: Rosetta Stone v Google continues

Google’s AdWords programme has been the subject of significant litigation in federal courts. One recent case has brought some much-needed clarity to the situation. Vanessa C. Hew and R. Terry Parker report.

Through Google’s AdWords programme, a company may purchase a competitor’s trademark as a keyword so that when users conduct a search on using the competitor’s trademark as a search term, the purchaser’s advertisements will appear as ‘sponsored links’, above or beside the search results.

The federal courts have been inconsistent in holding whether the purchase or sale of trademarks as keywords violates trademark law. However, the US Court of Appeal for the Fourth Circuit has clarified some, but not all, of the murky waters created by previous litigations with its April 2012 appellate decision in Rosetta Stone v Google (Rosetta Stone II).


Google, AdWords, Rosetta Stone, keyword advertising