Google has been sued for trademark infringement by an Indian portal company, Consim Info, which claims that the search company uses its trademarks to drive business to its competitors.
Consim Info runs a number of portals including a popular matrimonial portal called BharatMatrimony.com. The company also targets different communities and castes in India with matrimonial portals designed for each of these groups.
When a user does a search on Google for BharatMatrimony.com or related matrimonial sites of the company, the user is served up advertisements of its competitors, Consim CEO Murugavel Janakiraman said in a telephone interview on Monday.
Consim objects to Google offering Consim trademarks as keywords for bidding in its advertising program, Janakiraman said. "This certainly translates into loss of business for us," he added.
Consim's trademarks also often appear in links from competitors that are served on a Google search, Janakiraman said.
A Google India spokeswoman declined to comment, saying that the matter was before the court.
Consim is also demanding that advertisements of competitors not be displayed when words similar to its trademarks are used in a search on Google.
"A lot of people may not enter BharatMatrimony but instead use Bharat Matrimony, with a space between the two words, when doing a search," Janakiraman said. Their intent is to get to BharatMatrimony.com, he added.
Consim has filed a case before the Madras High Court in Chennai in south India. Janakiraman said that the court granted Consim an interim injunction last week, but that information could not be immediately confirmed as it is a public holiday in India on Monday.
Some of Consim's competitors have also been included as respondents in the case, besides Google.
Consim may also be benefiting from the Google program. When an user searches on Google for example for Shaadi.com, a competing matrimonial web site, Google displays sponsored links for BharatMatrimony.com.
Janakiraman said he could not comment on whether his company was also bidding for competitors' trademarks as keywords on Google, though he did not rule out that executives in his company in charge of advertising may be using the program.
"As the market leader, we want it to be stopped for everyone", he added.
Google has been sued in other countries too for offering trademarks as keywords in its advertising program. Rescuecom, a Syracuse, New York, computer services franchising business, sued Google in 2004, alleging that Google has seriously hurt its business by serving up competitors' ads when users search for "Rescuecom" in Google's search engine.