Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Geico Lizard Went To Court ...And Wins Against Google

In what I think is a pivotal case for Internet advertising, Judge issues decision in GEICO v. Google

Is this the straw that breaks the search engine camel's back?

A U.S. District Court judge ruled today that GEICO, in its case against Google, "established a likelihood of confusion, and therefore a violation of the Lanham Act, solely with regard to those Sponsored Links that use GEICO's trademarks in their headings or text."

Does this open the door for more trademark owners to grab their share of search engine revenue?

Will this mean trademarks and brand names can only be sold by their owners?

Maybe some search engine experts can tell me what the value of "Geico" is as a keyword versus "car insurance". This will be an interesting stat to watch.

The court stayed the trial for 30 days to give the parties an opportunity to settle. If the parties do not settle, the trial will continue as to the amount of damages and on the issue of who is liable: Google, or the advertisers on Google.

The next conundrum.

The written decision leaves open the issue of whether the sale and use of trademarks by search engines and advertisers to trigger ads that do not contain other parties' trademarks violates the law," said Charles Davies, GEICO's General Counsel

I made comments about this before Give the lizard a break, and Lizard went to court, and Google being greedy

Here's what I'm thinking. What if every brand or trademark owner jumps on this and goes after the search engines? Does this one event change their revenue model?

Does this provide open season on Google?

Thoughts comments?


Anonymous said...

Looks like:

Google gags on Geico.

Anonymous said...

to me, this is like when I go into a place of business like a restaurant and ask for a specific brand like "coca-cola." if that restaurant does not have a deal with coke, they offer of a competitor instead, like Pepsi. This happens all the time, I don't see the difference.

Scott Shaffer said...

Not to burst your bubble, but studies have shown the majority of people could not tell the difference between Pepsi and Coke when the bottle was not displayed.

Malcom Tidwell's Blink had a chapter on this.

But regarding keyword issue.

Which word gets more traffic, eBay or online auction. Geico or car insurance.

One is search, the other is navigation.

The stats say that most people are confused w/ paid listings and natural search results. So confusion is definitely there.

If I type in Geico and there is a listing for Joe's Auto Insurance, is that really fair?

Geico has spent millions creating a brand name and to have both Joe and Google piggyback off of this seems unfair.

I have seen plenty of studies done regarding search and keywords. It boils down to the top 100 keywords being brand names.

If I type in book store I want a listing of book stores, but if I type in Amazon, I want to go to their site.

It's the difference between search and navigation.

The key issue in this case is who is liable.

Is Joe's Car Insurance paying to be put in a Geico search, or is Google deliberately placing Joe when a Geico query comes up and charging a bundle.

This will be very interesting and in my opinion, the camel that breaks the keyword business model.

Don't think other trademark owners are just waiting to see who is liable for this.

There should be a way for users to type in Amazon and get a direct connect...soon