Google's 'Sponsored Links' Threatens Internet Free Speech

EFF Asks Judge to Uphold Key Trademark Ruling- The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals today to uphold an important ruling allowing anyone to purchase Google's "sponsored links" tied to trademarks, arguing that the practice is legal under trademark law and provides a vital means for online speakers to connect with audiences on the Internet.

Google's "sponsored links" feature allows customers to buy advertisements attached to certain search terms. When a Google user types those terms into the search engine, the sponsored links appear along with the search results. However, a company named Rescuecom filed a lawsuit against Google over the program, claiming that selling sponsored links for the term "Rescuecom" infringed its trademark.

"On the Internet, trademarks aren't just identifiers. They are essential navigation tools and vehicles of expression," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "Quashing this speech goes against both the law and the public interest."

A judge dismissed Rescuecom's case against Google last year, but the company is appealing the decision.