Google (GOOG) and other search ad providers are sued from time to time over ad sales on trademarked keywords. But this one’s different. It’s a big class-action suit alleging that Google’s AdWords product — the majority of its profits — “infringes the trademark of all Texas trademark owners,” according to law school professor Eric Goldman. (You can read the suit below, embedded.)
Goldman describes it as a “well-structured lawsuit that squarely raises the long-contentious debate over the legitimacy of selling trademarked keywords,” which could inspire more class-action suits in other states. “Should this lawsuit reach a final judgment on the merits, we will have a very important answer about what search engines and other keyword sellers can and can’t do,” he adds.
Goldman’s take: It’s unlikely the judge will certify the class because “trademark issues are just too complicated and individualized” for class-action cases. But he also argues that it might be good for Google to see the case through: If it wins, it could shut down all trademark-holders’ cases in the future; if things are looking bad, it could settle the whole thing all at once.