Hearts on Fire v. Blue Nile: Judge Gertner Rules That Keyword to Trigger Search Engine Ads Is a "Use" Under Lanham Act

by Lee Gesmer on April 1, 2009

The issue here, presented in the context of a motion to dismiss, is whether adoption of a trademark as a search engine keyword constitutes a “use” under the Lanham Act.  The Lanham Act requires “use in commerce” as a condition of infringement, and as Judge Gertner points out, various courts have taken different positions on whether purchase of a trademarked keyword to trigger a sponsored link on a search engine is a “use” of the trademark.  Judge Gertner surveyed the field and noted that most of the courts that have considered this issue have found that utilizing a trademark in this manner does constitute “use” under the Act, and she sided with what she considers to be the majority view (the significant exception being the Second Circuit’s decision in 1-800 Contacts v. WhenU).

Hearts of Fire v. Blue Nile

For earlier postings on this issue click here and here.

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