Judge Knocks Building Supplier's Complaint To Foundation
Handing Google a victory, a federal judge has rebuffed California entrepreneur Daniel Jurin for the second time this year for attempting to file a false advertising lawsuit against the search giant stemming from AdWords. But the decision continues to keep alive a portion of Jurin's lawsuit alleging that Google's AdWords program infringed on his trademark by diluting it -- that is, by using it in such a way that customers could come to view it as generic.
Jurin, who sells Styrotrim building material, sued Google last year for trademark infringement, false advertising, breach of contract and other counts. His basic complaint is that Google allegedly uses his trademarked term, Styrotrim, by allowing it to trigger pay-per-click search ads and also by suggesting such terms to marketers in its keyword selection tool.
Earlier this year U.S. District Court Judge Morrison England in the Eastern District of California dismissed several claims by Jurin against Google, but allowed Jurin to attempt to resurrect those counts in an amended complaint. Late last week, he dismissed a significant portion of that complaint, including the claim that Google's use of Styrotrim in ads confuses searchers.
"Plaintiff has failed to allege how Defendant's use of the term 'Styrotrim' in its AdWords program, or display of sponsored links in response to a internet search for the term 'Styrotrim,' creates a misleading suggestion as to the producer of the good," England wrote.
England also dismissed the false advertising claim, ruling that Jurin can't proceed with that allegation against Google because the companies aren't competitors.
"Defendant is a search engine operator and plaintiff markets a trademarked building material," England wrote. "Without a showing of direct competition, plaintiff cannot sustain a claim for false advertising."
Jurin also alleged that Google broke its contract with him by failing to investigate the use of Styrotrim in ads and disable the keyword. But Google successfully countered that it had never promised to do so. "Contrary to plaintiff's allegations, defendant's policy webpage states, in bold text, that it will not take such action," England wrote, referring to Google's AdWords trademark policy.
England ruled Jurin can file another amended complaint within 20 days, but it's not yet clear whether he intends to do so.
Jurin's attorney did not respond to a request for comment for this article.
Earlier this year, Google won a major victory in a similar lawsuit when a judge dismissed Rosetta Stone's trademark infringement complaint against the search company. But Google continues to face other lawsuits stemming from its AdWords program, including a potential class-action lawsuit.