The cut-throat world of search engine optimisation has been holding its breath this week, after luxury goods group LVMH, which owns brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moët & Chandon and Christian Dior, lost a legal battle to prevent its brand names being sold as sponsored links by Google.
European Court of Justice (ECJ) advocate general Poiares Maduro ruled Google has not infringed trademark rights by selling the keywords, but ECJ judges will now study the opinion in order to inform a French court on how to rule.
Actually, it turns out LVMH is on something of a litigation roll at the moment: just yesterday, a court fined eBay €80,000 (£72,000) for using names such as Kenzo and Guerlain in its ad campaigns.
But is LVMH being a little too precious with its brand names, or is it right to defend its intellectual property?
The issue has caused debate among bloggers. “The internet is like the Wild West right now. There are so few laws that can apply to this nebulous universe,” said one commenter, rather ominously.
In any case, Google will be feeling the victory. A piece on the Forbes website pointed out it will make a ‘small but material difference’ for Google, allowing the company to ‘continue to sell advertising to LVMH competitors’.