A Google ad touting the benefits of paid search has landed the company in court for alleged copyright infringement. In a complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, the image provider company Scherba Industries alleges that its graphic of an "inflatable gorilla," which it copyrighted in 2000, was used by Google in at least two magazine ads for AdWords.
"Google copied the copyrighted image of the plaintiff's Gorilla Inflatable, and reproduced this image in numerous magazines in an advertisement for its Google AdWords product, with distribution throughout the country, and for the purpose of generating profit for Google," the company alleges.
Google's ads ran in publications including Entrepreneur magazine and Crain's Cleveland Business, according to the complaint. An Entrepreneur ad from August 2010 shows the image that sparked the complaint -- what looks like a drawing of a plastic, blue gorilla -- holding up a sign that says "Your Ad Here." The ad also offers a coupon for a $75 free AdWords trial.
"Google acted willfully or knew or should have known that its actions constitute infringement," Scherba alleges. The company is seeking an injunction banning the use of the inflatable gorilla and damages.
A Google spokesperson said: "We believe these claims are without merit, and we will defend against them vigorously."