Google’s International Trademark Policy Change: “What, Me Worry?”

By Eric Goldman

I’ve had a number of discussions with folks about what Google would do in light of its adverse ruling in Rescuecom. Personally, I didn’t expect them to do much of anything right now. I still think they have a good shot at winning the Rescuecom case in the end, and if they do, they probably won’t feel any reason to change their practices. If they lose the Rescuecom case, then we’ll have to see why the loss occurred before evaluating corrective changes.

Meanwhile, in a probably unrelated move that is nevertheless interesting especially due to its timing, Search Engine Land reports that Google has liberalized its trademark policy in 190 countries to conform to its current policy in the US, Canada, Ireland and the UK (the latter two may have been liberalized in response to the favorable UK Mr. Spicy case). Thus, in 190 additional countries, Google will no longer block the sales of trademarked keywords. Notorious litigation hot-spot France remains on the list of places where Google will block trademarked keyword sales.

I’m not sure what, if any, legal developments have changed in these 190 countries to give Google comfort on the trademark front. However, I am sure this move will be unpopular with trademark owners!