June 11, 2009
Google Sued Again for Trademark Infringement--Soaring Helmet v. Leatherup.com
By Eric Goldman
It's clearly open season on trademark infringement lawsuits against Google. The latest is a lawsuit by Soaring Helmet, manufacturers of "Vega" helmets. This case is similar to the recent Hearts on Fire v. Blue Nile case in that the manufacturer (Hearts on Fire/Soaring Helmet) complained that a retailer (Blue Nile/Leatherup.com) purchased the manufacturer's trademark and said/implied in its ad copy that it sold the manufacturer's goods even though it allegedly didn't carry the manufacturer's goods at all.
The main difference between this lawsuit and the Hearts on Fire lawsuit is that the manufacturer also dragged Google into the lawsuit--even though Google treated Soaring Helmet's initial cease-and-desist letter as a trademark opt-out and blocked subsequent references to Vega in Leatherup.com's ad copy. Thus, unless Soaring Helmet seeks to reach back to the ads displayed before its C&D, it appears Soaring Helmet is trying to hold both Google and Leatherup.com liability simply for showing ads triggered by Soaring Helmet's "Vega" trademark.
For those of you keeping score, this is the fourth time in a month that trademark owners have sued Google over its AdWords programs. The other three are:
A fifth pending AdWords trademark lawsuit is the Rescuecom case. I'm not aware of any others pending beyond these 5, but surely this action is making Google's outside counsel smile.
I note that the John Beck lawsuit is a putative class action covering all US trademark owners. I wonder if Google could consolidate this case with that...?
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