Google is being taken to court in the district court of Texas Corpus Christi division by a company which sell hairdressing equipment.
Flowbee International alleges that Google technology allows certain companies to “free ride on Flowbee’s reputation and goodwill.”
The suit alleges that Google has sold to third parties the right to use the trademark and service mark of Flowbee as “keyword triggers that cause paid advertisements” – Google sponsored links – “to appear above or alongside the natural results”.
Says the filing: “When consumers enter the Flowbee Mark into Google’s search engine to search or navigate the world wide web, instead of being directed to Flowbee’s website, Google’s ‘Sponsored Links’ may instead misdirect them to (1) websites of others that compete with Flowbee; (2) websites that sell vacuum haircutters, not only Flowbee’s website, but also a variety of competitors’ websites; or (3) websites that are entirely unrelated to Flowbee”.
The plaintiff complains that Google has the ability to structure and configure its programming to stop this misuse of the Flowbee Mark. “It has already implemented procedures with respect to European Internet users that prevent the misuse of trademarks. Google, however, has chosen not to implement these procedures for Internet users in the United States to the detriment of consumers and Flowbee alike”.
Flowbee wants to trim Google by honoring trademarks of third parties.