Rosetta Stone Sues Google For Sponsored Link Advertising Containing Trademarks.

ALEXANDRIA, July 10, 2009 -- Language learning software publisher Rosetta Stone Ltd. brought a lawsuit against search engine giant Google in response to Google's sale of advertising allegedly containing Rosetta Stone's trademarks.

The world's leading search engine Google allows users to find information on any subject for free by conducting keyword searches to find web sites within the search perimeters. The results are provided in a numbered or ranked list which is determined by a formula or algorithm created by Google. These results are known as "natural" or "organic" results.

While users of Google are not charged for the service, Google does make a substantial income from paid advertisers in the form of "Sponsored Links" through its AdWords program. Rather than accepting the natural ranking of their web pages, an entity can pay Google to have an advertisement appear above or beside the natural results, with the advertisement sometimes appearing similar to the natural results. These paid advertisements are triggered by keywords, which form the basis of the price charged by Google.

A number of lawsuits have been filed by trademark owners in recent months against competitors and vendors for using trademarks as keywords triggering Sponsored Link advertising on the Google web site. The lawsuit filed today by Rosetta Stone is one of the first trademark infringement suits to name Google as the sole defendant.

Rosetta Stone has argued that Google is liable for trademark infringement and dilution for deriving income from the unauthorized use of Rosetta Stone's trademarks to direct users to: websites of companies that compete with Rosetta Stone; websites that sell language education not only for Rosetta Stone, but also for a variety of competitors; websites that sell counterfeit Rosetta Stone products; and/or websites that are entirely unrelated to language educations.

Rosetta Stone has federally registered the trademarks, ROSETTA STONE, ROSETTA STONE LANGUAGE & LEARNING SUCCESS, DYNAMIC IMMERSION, ROSETTASTONE.COM, ROSETTA WORLD, and ADAPTIVE RECALL. Rosetta Stone argues that Google could have easily prevented third parties from using its trademarks or confusingly similar key words, but chose not to and accepted income from parties infringing Rosetta Stone's trademarks.

The complaint filed by Rosetta Stone also points out that Google has a strict policy regarding how would-be advertisers use Google's trademarks, specifically the GOOGLE trademark can be used "only as as adjective, never as a noun or verb, and never in the plural or possessive." Further Google's policy further warns advertisers not to "mess around with our marks. Only we get to do that. Don't remove, distort or alter any element of a Google Brand Feature...for example through hyphenation, combination or abbreviation."

When a court finds a defendant intentionally infringed a registered trademark, the court must under the Lanham Act, enter judgment for three times the greater of the counterfeiters' profits or the plaintiff's damages together with a reasonable attorney’s fee unless the Plaintiff elects for statutory damages up to $1,000,000 per counterfeit mark per type of goods or services.

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