Firepond “Copycat” Lawsuit Filed Against Google–John Beck Amazing Profits v. Google

By Eric Goldman

John Beck Amazing Profits, LLC v. Google Inc. 2:2009cv00151 (E.D. Tex. complaint filed May 14, 2009). The Justia page.

Earlier this week, a group of lawyers filed a class action lawsuit against Google and its distribution partners (FPX v. Google) alleging that Google’s AdWords infringed the rights of Texas trademark owners. The same group of lawyers has now filed a second putative class action lawsuit against Google in the Eastern District of Texas.

I didn’t do a word-for-word comparison, but two main differences were obvious. First, a smaller number of Google’s distribution partners are targeted. Second, and more importantly, this complaint alleges a class comprised of all US trademark owners, instead of restricting the class just to Texas.

I don’t fully understand why the same group of class action lawyers would file two separate class action complaints covering the same basic defendants and issues, but it’s not the first time we’ve seen this tactic (the advertisers suing Yahoo over “syndication fraud” pulled the same stunt). I suspect it has something to do with trying to ensure lead dog position if/when a judge consolidates multiple copycat lawsuits from other plaintiffs’ lawyers.

In any case, this lawsuit covering all US trademark owners now squarely offers Google the option to resolve and clean up any past trademark liability for past AdWord sales should it choose to accept this battle. In light of Google’s liberalized AdWords trademark policy announced last night (which I’ll blog shortly), it doesn’t seem like Google is looking for an easy way out.