The Supreme Court of India has recently dismissed an appeal filed by MakemyTrip Limited (MMT) against Google LLC. MMT had challenged Google’s practice of allowing competitors, like Booking.com, to use MMT’s trademarks (“Makemytrip” and “MMT”) as keywords in Google Ads.

What was the Issue?

MakemyTrip claimed Google misused their trademarks by allowing them to be used as keywords in Google Ads for competitor Booking.com. Allowing competitors to use their trademarks as keywords amounted to trademark infringement. They claimed it misled users and diverted traffic away from their website.

The Appeal

MMT appealed a Delhi High Court decision that ruled using trademarks as keywords in Google Ads doesn’t constitute trademark infringement if it doesn’t cause confusion for users.

The Court’s Judgement

The Supreme Court, however, sided with the Delhi High Court’s earlier ruling. They determined there was no likelihood of confusion for users. Someone searching for “Makemytrip” is unlikely to land on Booking.com unintentionally. The court further clarified that using a competitor’s trademark as a keyword in Google Ads is acceptable as long as the ads are transparent and don’t deceive users.

Impact

This decision sets a precedent for similar trademark cases involving online advertising in India. It suggests that businesses cannot prevent competitors from using their trademarks as keywords, as long as the practice doesn’t create confusion for consumers.

What This Means:

  • Businesses in India cannot prevent competitors from using their trademarks as keywords in Google Ads.
  • However, the ads must be clear and not misleading to consumers.
  • Both rulings establish a precedent for similar cases, emphasizing the importance of transparent advertising practice

Here are some of the other trademark infringement cases that you might want to check:

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