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Statement | ADIF lauds Delhi HC’s prima facie view that Google is profiting from the goodwill and reputation of trademark owners; condemns Google’s blatant double standard and duplicity in policies
We exhort Google to put an end to the menace of misleading ads on their platforms.
We at ADIF laud the Delhi high court Justice Prathiba M. Singh’s view that the use of a registered trademark as a keyword on Google Ads by a competitor would amount to trademark infringement. The Court also observed that Google Ads creates a situation where a trademark proprietor is being forced to bid for its own trademark for the advertisement of its own goods and services.
ADIF further calls out Google’s double standards and duplicity in its policies. In the European Union, Google investigates the use of trademarks as keywords in published ads, but in India, it refuses to do so. Credible Indian brands are being put in harm's way as a result of competitors – both global and domestic – taking advantage of Google's lax policies. All the while, Google is profiteering from the resulting situation.
What is also worth noting is that the company diluted its policy standards for India in 2015 and discontinued investigating trademark infringements through keywords. Google stands to profit from the situation it has created as a result of its diluted policy standards in India.
In an earlier instance, Justice V. Kameswar Rao of the Delhi High Court said allowing advertisers to choose a keyword which is a trademarked term or interspersing it with other generic words in the ad-title or ad-text is an infringement. In the case, the Court had questioned the tech giant’s lack of parity in policy and directed Google to investigate the matter of trademark infringement and resultant misleading ads.
The Delhi high court observed in the same case that Google is fully liable for any omissions and commissions of an advertiser and that the company must ensure that a keyword is not an infringement of trademark. Google’s argument that keywords are chosen by advertisers and that being an intermediary, the tech giant cannot be held liable for violations is untenable – it is only aimed at shirking accountability in order to continue to engage in profiteering.
Sijo Kuruvilla George, the Executive Director of the Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), said:
“Companies and individuals spend a considerable amount of time, effort, and resources on building a brand – an intangible asset for any business. It is unethical of Google to encash upon the goodwill and reputation of brands by allowing their competitors to use their registered trademarks as keywords in Google Ads. The tech giant is profiteering from this practice, all the while hurting credible Indian brands, misleading their consumers, and at times even endangering them by exposing them to scam links. There needs to be accountability.”
This blatant double standard and duplicity on the part of Google are deplorable. We exhort Google to put an end to the menace of misleading ads on their platforms. We call upon the policymakers and key stakeholders of the Indian startup ecosystem to ensure that the tech giant respects the law of the land and is held accountable.
Founded in 2020, ADIF (Alliance of Digital India Foundation) is an industry body for India’s digital startups formed to fully capitalise on the sector’s promise with the objective of its long-term prosperity in mind. ADIF aims to transform the Indian startup ecosystem into the top 3 globally by 2030.
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