They must know something, because late last week they notified their advertisers that it was open season on trademark keyword buys (CNET story here). Yes, this is the long simmering issue that is still in the courts – trademark owners don’t want third parties bidding on their trademarked terms (the most well-known case is Playboy).
In any case, this is a bold move, akin to “waving a red flag at the bull” as one source told CNET. But is it? At the end of the day, the law favors clarity and consistency, if it can. Seems to me this move forces clarity: It’s all or nothing. Google is, by its action, declaring what it thinks is the appropriate approach – let the market decide. LImiting *some* keywords forces the courts into a never ending cycle of litigation around where the boundaries w/r/t fair trademark use are.In the current political climate, such an approach will probably prove futile in the long run. Google is playing this move against what they believe is the end game, and they may not be far off in their estimation of the courts.