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Retailer and bag manufacturer Louis Vuitton appear to be worse off following a fight with Google over the use of their trademarks in search engines.

In a new ruling the European Court of Justice, said that Google had not infringed Louis Vuitton trademark rights by allowing advertisers to buy keywords corresponding to registered trademarks.

The case was taken to European’s highest court after Louis Vuitton owner LVMH won a court case in France in 2005. At the time the court ruled that that Google had acted illegally by allowing other companies to use the Vuitton brand name as a key search word for adverts on its site.

The French appeal court sent the case to the European Court of Justice, asking for a ruling on whether Google was breaking EU law by making trademarked keywords available to advertisers, and whether the search engine could be held liable for the content featured in its AdWords service.

European Court Of Justice advocate-general, Poiares Maduro, said “Google has not committed a trademark infringement by allowing advertisers to select, in AdWords, keywords corresponding to trademarks. The use of the trademarks is limited to the selection of keywords – an internal “AdWords” mechanism concerning only Google and the advertisers” he said

He added “When selecting keywords, there is thus no product or service sold to the general public. Such a use cannot therefore be considered as being a use made in relation to goods or services identical or similar to those covered by the trademarks. Similarly, advertisers themselves do not commit a trademark infringement by selecting in Adwords keywords corresponding to trademarks,” Maduro said.

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