FOR advertisers, and in many ways for consumers, online advertising is a blessing. Customized messages rescue advertisers from the broad reach of traditional media. And consumers can learn about products and services that appeal directly to them.
But there are huge costs, and many dangers, warns Jennifer Granick, the executive director for the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society (wired.com). To approach individuals with customized advertising, you have to know who they are. Or at least, you have to gather enough personal information about them that their identity could be easily figured out.
AdWords is the popular online system which serves up ads tied to searches users perform on Google or Google-affiliated sites. The program accounted for 98 percent or more of the company’s $10.6 billion in revenue last year.
American Blinds complaint argues that Google’s system violates trademark law by allowing competitors of American Blinds to use Google’s system to buy keyword search terms, such as “American Blind,” which trigger ads from rival companies.
“This is going to the first case where the keyword advertising problem is being submitted to a jury,” Rammelt said.
Google has prevailed in two prior U.S. trademark suits filed against its pay-per-click advertising program.