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Google Fails To Shake Cybersitter AdWords Trademark Infringement Claims

October 25, 2012,

google.jpgSan Diego - Google Inc. cannot slip away from Cybersitter LLC's claims that it aided and abetted a competitor in misusing Cybersitter's trademarked name in advertisements drawing traffic away from Cybersitter's business, a Los Angeles federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Cybersitter, which developed, markets and sells an Internet content-filtering program, sued Google and ContentWatch Inc. over ContentWatch's marketing of its own Internet content-filtering software, Net Nanny, and its use of Google's AdWords paid advertising program.

A portion of Google's revenue comes from displaying sponsors' paid advertisements on its search engine and other websites. In response to keyword searches on Google's search engine, sponsors' paid advertising results, which it calls "sponsored links" are displayed with other search results.

The AdWords program specifically allows ad sponsors to purchase certain keywords that trigger the sponsor's ad whenever a Google user conducts a search through its search engine.

Earlier this year, Cybersitter learned that ContentWatch was running paid ads for Net Nanny through AdWords that included the Cybersitter trademark. When an Internet user would search on Google for Cybersitter or similar terms, ContentWatch's ads with the trademark would be displayed, often as the first result in the user's search, according to the court.

Google has violated federal and California laws by selling the right to use the Cybersitter trademark to ContentWatch, which in turn illegally uses the trademark in its online ads through the AdWords program, Cybersitter alleges. It has also wrongly permitted and encouraged ContentWatch's use of the trademark in its online ads, Cybersitter claims.

Judge Ronald S.W. Lew denied Google's motion to transfer the case to Santa Clara federal court, as well as its motion to dismiss Cybersitter's claims, saying Cybersitter had adequately pled and provided sufficient facts to support its trademark infringement claims.

"In sum, for the state law claims of trademark infringement, contributory infringement, and unfair competition, plaintiff has sufficiently pled the facts necessary to establish defendant's acts as independent torts that are not barred by [Communications Decency Act] immunity," Judge Lew said.

The judge did, however, grant Google's motion to dismiss Cybersitter's claim for unjust enrichment.