Judge Dismisses AdWords Suit Brought By Law Firm

A state judge in Connecticut has dismissed a lawsuit against Google by the New Haven law firm Stratton Faxon, which had complained about the use of its name to trigger AdWords ads.

The judge agreed with Google that Stratton Faxon should have filed its case in federal court, not state court, according to law firm partner Michael Stratton. While the firm theoretically could still sue in federal court, Stratton says he doesn't intend to pursue the matter any further.

"Our objectives had been achieved," Stratton says. "Nobody dares buy our name from Google AdWords at this point."

A Google spokesperson said only that the company was pleased with the court's decision.

Stratton Faxon brought the case last year, after conducting a Google search on its name on seeing ads for the rival law firm Silver, Golub and Teitell.

Stratton Faxon alleged that these ads interfered with the firm's business relations with clients, were an unfair business practice under Connecticut law, and resulted in unjust enrichment. But the law firm didn't allege the more typical claim for these types of cases -- that Google infringed on the firm's trademark by allowing a rival to use it to trigger ads.

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Google still is facing several lawsuits alleging trademark infringement on AdWords, including cases brought by language instruction company Rosetta Stone, software development company Firepond and Flowbee, which manufacturers home haircutting systems.

The search company, which has allowed trademarked terms to trigger search ads since 2004, has not yet lost a lawsuit that challenged the practice. The one U.S. case to go to trial -- a lawsuit by insurance company Geico -- resulted in a victory for Google on the key point: U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema in Virginia ruled that Geico had not shown that consumers were confused when its name triggered ads for rivals.

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