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Internet search engines and trademark rights

Trademark rights owners in China are increasingly demanding action against keyword advertising programmes used by well-known internet search engines. Recent court decisions in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are helpful but highlight regional disparities. By Luckie Hong, Jones Day.

Date: 10 February 2009

Keywords (click to search): Google Baidu internet search engine IP intellectual property trademark copyright infringement

Google and Baidu have become household names in China. Both companies provide internet search services, and both now offer keyword advertising programmes. Under these programmes, companies can purchase certain keywords – when a user searches for these words, targeted advertising is displayed, often in the form of links to the companies’ own websites.

    Recent cases from the PRC Courts in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai have again raised questions relating to keyword advertising programmes. The issue at stake is whether the purchase or sale of keywords that constitute the whole or part of another party’s registered trademark can be classified as trademark infringement under Chinese law.


RIGHTS OWNERS DEMANDING ACTION

Trademark holders are now challenging keyword advertising in China; such challenges have also been made in other jurisdictions worldwide for a considerable time. As far back as 1999, the United States Court of the Ninth Circuit issued...


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