IP: Keyword Advertising

Whether a company can safely purchase search engine keywords identical to the trademarks of its competitors is an open question being hotly debated in the courts. A keyword is a purchased search term that generates an advertisement from the keyword purchaser when entered into a search engine by an Internet user.

A finding of trademark infringement under the federal Lanham Act requires initial findings that the defendant "has used the plaintiff's mark in connection with the sale or offering for sale of goods or services" and the use was made "in commerce." The threshold question of whether a keyword purchase constitutes actionable use of a trademark under the Lanham Act was unsettled until relatively recently, but a clear majority of courts have now concluded that the unauthorized use of trademarks as keywords is actionable use.


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Christopher Dolan

Christopher Dolan is a shareholder in Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione’s Chicago office and a member of its Trademark Practice Group. His practice focuses on...

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