Tuesday, August 21, 2007

American Airlines could be playing a canny game with Google

Much has been written in the past few days about the lawsuit filed in the US by American Airlines against Google.

Irony corner: check out Google News to see just how many news stories there have been.

In short, the scrap is over American's annoyance that Google will sell the keywords "American Airlines" to all and sundry, meaning that rival airlines, online travel agencies, meta search sites, et al, can hijack the paid-for ad slots against search results.

On Google UK, Airline Network is currently occupying the top spot.

Amid the coverage that this is potentially the biggest lawsuit over brand hijacking ever brought against Google, lies this poigant comment in a post - "Lawsuit destined to Fail" - on ZDNet.

"Instead of going after the people actually abusing their trademark, they want Google to pay the price for letting it happen in the first place."

Copyright and branding law is a minefield, of course, but is Google really that unstoppable?

One argument could be that American could actually be trying to raise the profile of the issue again to the extent that other high profile brands take a stance. And then, with a group of companies in commercial solidarity, Google might find the problem too big to ignore.

Interesting times...

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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