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Georgia courts toss suit claiming use of plaintiff's trademark as Google Ads keyword constituted theft of personal property
03 February 2021 (Edited )
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Judges ruled that auctioning off the opportunity to advertise using trademark as keyword does not deprive the mark owner of any property

Use of company's name in a keyword takes nothing of value from the company

A seriously lame lawsuit filed against Google by fruit-basket seller Edible IP dba Edible Arrangements in 2018 alleged that permitting Google Ads advertisers to run ads using 'Edible Arrangements' as a keyword constituted "theft of personal property, conversion, money had and received, and civil RICO" (i.e., a violation of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of which was enacted for the purpose of seeking to eradicate organized crime).

The thrust of Edible Arrangements' case was that Google committed theft of its trademarked name by allowing its sale as a keyword in Google Ads auctions.

Note that for whatever reason, the Edible Arrangements filing did not address trademark infringement per se.

(As stated in its advertising policies, Google if so requested by a mark owner will restrict the use of a company name or trademark in the text of paid search ads, but not its use as a keyword.)

A Georgia State Court judge ruled:

"Google has not taken Edible IP’s trade name or sold it for profit. Rather, Google has auctioned off the opportunity to advertise on the results page produced when an individual types the keyword phrase “Edible Arrangements” into the Google search bar….it does not “deprive” Edible IP of any property…Creative pleading cannot convert Google’s advertising program into a theft by taking..."

(I like that reference to "creative pleading".)

Edible Arrangements appealed that finding, but on Friday Georgia Senior Appellate Judge Herbert E. Phipps affirmed the lower court's decision.

I believe this suit must have looked like a non-starter from Day 1 to everyone but Edible Arrangements' attorneys. How much money did this waste for everyone concerned over 3 years?

Learn more about how you can use and benefit from Google paid search ads in your business.

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