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4CA remands trademark claims against Google

Language-learning company Rosetta Stone has won the right to try part of its trademark infringement action against Internet industry giant Google, in a decision released earlier today by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rosetta Stone sued Google after it relaxed its policy on use of trademarks in ads on Google’s AdWords platform. Rosetta Stone said consumers who performed Google keyword searches using the language company’s widely recognized mark were being directed to counterfeiters and competitors of Rosetta Stone. Alexandria U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee granted summary judgment for Google.

Today the 4th Circuit upheld summary judgment for Google on the plaintiff’s claims for vicarious infringement and unjust enrichment under Virginia law. But it vacated summary judgment for Google on Rosetta Stone’s claims of direct infringement, contributory infringement and trademark dilution, and remanded to the district court.

Among other points, the appellate panel said there were factual issues as to whether consumers were sophisticated enough to distinguish among products pulled up with a “Rosetta Stone” search on Google, and whether Google continued to supply its services to known infringers of the Rosetta Stone mark.

The 47-page unanimous opinion in Rosetta Stone Ltd. v. Google Inc. is VLW 012-2-088.
–Deborah Elkins

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