This is the first time that I’ve heard of a company suing Google on behalf of a bunch of other people and companies. FPX, LLC (also known as Firepond) is taking Google to court over their AdWords service. Firepond claims that selling keywords that Google does not have trademarks for on AdWords is a violation.
Below is an excerpt from the document filed against Google at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Marshall Division:
“Defendant Google sells search terms, including registered trademarks (including the Firepond Marks and the Class Marks) to advertisers who are not affiliated with, sponsored by, or authorized by the trademark owners. It is Google?s policy and practice to display the advertisements of those who buy the keywords on the top or right side of the first page of results when an Internet User uses the Google search engine to search for the trademark as a search term. It is Google?s policy that it will sell any trademark to any advertiser, regardless of whether the advertiser is affiliated with, sponsored by, or authorized by the trademark owner. Further, it is Google?s policy that it will not remove or disable any link to any advertisement, even after receiving actual notice that the advertisement is infringing a registered trademark, unless the advertisement actually uses the trademark in the text of the ad. If the trademark does not appear in the text of the ad, Google?s policy is that it will not remove or disable any link, even after receiving actual notice of infringement. Google?s policy and practice of selling registered trademarks as keywords and/or adwords to competitors of the trademark holders shall be referred to herein as the ‘Deceptive Trademark Practice.'”
If this class action lawsuit actually makes it to the court and FPX actually wins an injunction on behalf of everyone in Texas that owns a trademark word that can be bought on AdWords, that would be a huge problem for the search engine company. Fortunately for Google, they have a massive enough budget to handle such litigation.