"Google AdWords -- Be Careful What You Bid For"

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Since the proliferation of the internet and online advertising, trademark owners have sought to prevent the unauthorized use of their marks as keywords for online advertising on search engines. In the Second Circuit before 2009, trademark owners had difficulty protecting their marks where the competitor's link simply shows up as "Sponsored Link" on the landing page, and no other use of the mark has been made, because of the decision in 1-800 Contacts, Inc. v. WhenU.com, Inc., 414 F.3d 400 (2d Cir. 2005), which held that no Lanham Act "use", and, thus, no actionable Lanham Act claim, exists for the use of a trademark in a keyword or metatag, where (a) the defendant does not place the trademark on any product, good or service, (b) it is not used in any way that would indicate source of origin, and (c) where defendant's use of plaintiff's trademark is strictly internal and not communicated to the public, as the use does not indicate the source or origin of the product.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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