AXA Sues Google to Stop ‘Adwords’

April 27, 2004

Google, the Internet search engine, has been hailed into a French court by insurance giant AXA over its sale of “adwords” – a feature that sells ad space based on search words.

According to news reports from Reuters and the BBC, Google’s service has allowed AXA’s competitors to introduce words that come up when Google users search the company’s name. AXA claims that the use of such words infringes on its patents and copyrights, and wants to stop Google from selling them.

Selling advertising has become an increasingly important source of revenue for Google, which is rumored to be preparing an initial public offering of its shares. AXA’s claims, which have also been made by other companies, could, if enforced, reduce some of that ad revenue.

Google has already appealed the ruling of a French court made last October that awarded 75,000 euros ($88,875) in damages to an online travel agent who sued the company for selling “adwords” that it claimed infringed on its trade name.

The ads appeared when the company’s name was searched and included links to rival companies. Google was also ordered to end the practice within 30 days, but that ruling too has been appealed.

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