Los Angeles – In a recent dispute over Google’s AdWord policy, the owners of Cybersitter are suing Google and Net Nanny for trademark infringement. Cybersitter, specializing in adult content blocking software, is alleging that its rival Net Nanny paid Google to show Net Nanny ads any time Google users conducted searches for “Cybersitter”. Cybersitter argues that the ad copy for Net Nanny sometimes included its name and slogan “Protect you child with #1 rated Cybersitter software”. According to paperwork filed in court, Cybersitter insists that this type of subterfuge on the part of Google amounts to trademark infringement.
Cybersitter lists both Google and Net Nanny as defendants in the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles in U.S. District Court, Central District of California. The court documents allege that both defendants “intentionally and wrongfully used bait and switch strategies to confuse consumers into purchasing a competing product.” However, it is important to note that Cybersitter did not allege in its court documents that Google had been contacted about the Net Nanny ads. Experts surmise that the case may not have much chance for success against Google, because the Internet search giant should have been given the opportunity to fix the problem prior to litigation.
Google representatives claim that the case is without merit and vow to clear Google’s reputation in court. In the past, Google has successfully defended itself against similar lawsuits. Two such trademark infringement cases were won by Google, and the rest were withdrawn or settled. However, on April 4th, 2012, the Circuit Court of Appeals reversed one of the decisions that had been handed down in Google’s favor. At the district court level, Google had won a summary judgment against language learning software company, Rosetta Stone.
Similar to the Cybersitter case, searches for Rosetta Stone yielded results that directed consumers to a different company website and persuaded them to purchase products other than the Rosetta Stone learning programs. Consequently, Rosetta Stone alleged that Google’s AdWord policies confused consumers and infringed on its trademarks. The Appeals Court ruled that Rosetta Stone should have been allowed the opportunity for a trial to determine whether the AdWords policy had confused consumers by allowing the company’s trademarked name to trigger pay-per-click ads for a competitor.
Cybersitter is owned by Solid Oak Software, located in Santa Barbara, California. Net Nanny is owned by ContentWatch, an Internet management solutions company, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Both companies specialize in the latest Internet technology designed to assist in blocking adult content from computers used in schools, businesses and government offices. A decision on the Cybersitter, Google, Net Nanny case is expected to be handed down in the oncoming months and may result in a re-evaluation of Google’s AdWord policy.