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Rosetta Stone's Google trademark suit dismissed

Google has prevailed in another lawsuit over its policy of allowing advertisers that don't own certain trademarks to purchase AdWords ads generated by those trademarks.

Google Rosetta Stone search results ads
Rosetta Stone is not happy that other companies can purchase ads based on its trademarks, but courts have consistently ruled that Google can sell such advertising. Screenshot by Tom Krazit/CNET

Another lawsuit challenging Google's policy of allowing AdWords advertisers to bid on keywords that are also trademarks has been dismissed.

Without comment, Judge Gerald Lee of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia threw out a lawsuit Wednesday filed by language software company Rosetta Stone in a victory for Google before it ever came to trial. Rosetta Stone had originally filed suit hoping to stop Google from selling trademarked keywords to companies that did not hold the rights to those trademarks, a practice which Rosetta Stone argued has confused consumers and harmed its brand.

Similar cases have been filed against Google in the past, but none have managed to stick. Rescuecom recently dropped its trademark suit against Google, while a European court ruled in Google's favor in a recent case involving Louis Vuitton.

"Users searching on Google benefit from being able to choose from a variety of competing advertisers, and we've found no evidence that legitimate use of trademarks as keyword triggers or in the text of advertisements confuses consumers. We're pleased that the judge has ruled in Google's favor, consistent with a growing line of decisions in the Internet space," Google said in a statement.

While acknowledging his company's defeat, Rosetta Stone CEO Tom Adams said he found it curious that Google displays some ads from companies that don't own the trademarked search query as opposed to others. For example, a search for a prominent keyword like "Apple" generates a search results page with only one sponsored link: Apple's. By comparison, a search for "Rosetta Stone" produces two sponsored links to businesses that are not affiliated with Rosetta Stone, in addition to sponsored links purchased by Rosetta Stone and resellers.

"We will continue to fight this," Adams said, although he produced no evidence that Google was singling out his or other companies. Much of the evidence and arguments presented in the case were sealed by the judge's order, making it impossible at the moment to understand the arguments advanced by each party during the pretrial phase leading up to the judge's dismissal order.