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Trademark Doctrines in Google Search Litigation

Rutgers law prof Greg Lastowka has deposited Google's Law in the bepress Legal Repository. From the introduction:

Google has become, for the majority of Americans, the index of choice for online information. Through dynamically generated results pages keyed to a near-infinite variety of search terms, Google steers our thoughts and our learning online. It tells us what words mean, what things look like, where to buy things, and who and what is most important to us. Google’s control over “results” constitutes an awesome ability to set the course of human knowledge. As this paper will explain, fortunes are won and lost based on Google’s results pages, including the fortunes of Google itself. Because Google’s results are so significant to e-commerce activities today, they have already been the subject of substantial litigation. Today’s courtroom disputes over Google’s results are based primarily, though not exclusively, in claims about the requirements of trademark law. This paper will argue that the most powerful trademark doctrines shaping these cases, “initial interest confusion” and “trademark use,” are not up to the task they have been given, but that trademark law must continue to stay engaged with Google’s results.


October 15, 2007 in Search | Permalink


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