On Monday, a divided panel of appeals judges ruled that Amazon will have to face a trademark lawsuit because of online search results it published, which point to the competitors of a high-end watchmaker.
The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit published its opinion (PDF) in Multi Time Machine v. Amazon.com today, reversing a lower court decision that held in favor of Amazon. In the original case, Multi Time Machine (MTM) sued Amazon saying its search results were confusing. The case now returns to the district court in Los Angeles for further proceedings.
Multi Time Machine may end up being an important outlier in technology law, since it approves a trademark owner bringing suit over search results. Many companies have filed lawsuits challenging the practice of “keyword advertising” by suing competitors or search engines themselves. However, the practice essentially died out because trademark owners couldn’t win the lawsuits. Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman, who has tracked keyword advertising lawsuits for years, wrote last month that Google and Yahoo had finally prevailed in what he believes was the last remaining keyword advertising lawsuit.
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