American Airlines drops trademark lawsuit against Google

Companies say they have mutually resolved the claims

American Airlines has dropped its trademark infringement lawsuit against Google, which claimed the Internet company used the airline's trademark to trigger paid advertisements for other companies.

In identical e-mail statements, American and Google said they have resolved the claims on "mutually satisfactory terms," although the terms remain confidential.

American filed the lawsuit last August in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, saying it wanted to stop competitors from using its trademarks to trigger their own advertising on Google.

In October, the court denied a motion by Google to dismiss American's lawsuit.

Experts differ on whether Google made any concessions to persuade the airlines to drop the lawsuit. And, they said, it may have been as simple as American not having the money needed to take on Google in prolonged litigation.

On July 16, a day before the lawsuit was dismissed, AMR, parent company of American, released its earnings statement saying it had a second quarter net loss of US$1.4 billion, citing record fuel prices among others things.

"A lot has to do with the economy," said Ryan Gile, an intellectual property lawyer at Las Vegas-based Weide & Miller, in a interview. "It's an expensive battle. You stop this fight and you save a half million and maybe more in potential legal fees. Or maybe Google is going to put something in the functionality of their Adwords program to prevent anyone from purchasing an American Airlines trademark."

On the other hand, it's possible Google didn't make any special concessions to American to block keyword ads on their trademarks, said Eric Goldman, assistant professor and director of the High Tech Law Institute at the Santa Clara University School of Law. Goldman said Google may have made other concessions that the public will never know about. Or maybe American didn't want to spend any more time or money on the lawsuit.

"We're trying to read the tea leaves without a lot of data here," Goldman said. "It would help a lot if we got better signals on what happened. Did money move? Was there some kind of backroom deal? Did American decide to take its marbles and go home because it got what it wanted? Or did it decide to take its marbles and go home because it was never going to get what it wanted?"

While it may never be clear why the lawsuit was dismissed, Gile and Goldman agreed that the decision will disappoint followers of trademark issues who were hoping for a legal resolution to the case. Some in this field expected the case to go to trial, figuring that American had the resources to take on a powerful company like Google.

However, because the lawsuit was dismissed, it deprived "the trademark world of some additional case law that could have clarified the otherwise confusing jurisprudence surrounding whether or not the use of another company's trademark as keywords (either to trigger "sponsored links" or otherwise) constitutes trademark infringement," Giles said in a blog post.

This is not the first time a company has dropped a trademark lawsuit against Google. In September, American Blinds & Wallpaper Factory dropped a similar lawsuit against Google.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Linda Rosencrance

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?