Google And Rosetta Stone Suddenly Settle
November 1, 2012

Google And Rosetta Stone Settle Their Differences

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Google search is a great service, making the search for information, products and services a relatively easy affair. While Google has always worked to make the results returned to users the most accurate out there, it´s not always easy to prevent gaming the system. For instance, if someone is looking for a product to help them learn another language, the keywords they use may very well bring up an offering from Rosetta Stone.

In 2009, the language software company felt that not enough of these potential customers were being led to their products and launched a lawsuit against Google. Rosetta Stone accused Google of committing trademark infringement by selling Rosetta Stones´ trademarks to their competitors, taking business away from Rosetta Stone, Inc.

Yesterday, the two companies suddenly announced they´d settled their differences outside of a court and dismissed the suit, according to a filing in the US District Court in Alexandria, VA.

“Rosetta Stone Inc and Google have agreed to dismiss the three-year-old trademark infringement lawsuit between them and to meaningfully collaborate to combat online ads for counterfeit goods and prevent the misuse and abuse of trademarks on the Internet,” read the statement given by both companies and printed by Reuters.

As a way to guide customers to their products, advertisers will place bids with Google for the use of certain keywords. While this isn´t the only way Google will point searchers towards a particular business, the highest bid often helps an advertiser win these keywords.

Rosetta complained that Google was accepting the bids of their competitors and selling Rosetta´s trademarks to other companies.

In 2010, a Virginia federal court dismissed the case launched in 2009. This court ruled that the sale of these keywords to Rosetta´s competitors was not going to confuse consumers. Rosetta appealed this decision, and earlier this spring, the US Court of Appeal in the 4th circuit in Richmond, VA brought the majority of the case back into play. This decision allowed Rosetta to continue pursuing claims that Google diluted their brand by committing trademark infringement.

In their appeals brief, Rosetta said it was “entitled to its day in court before a properly instructed jury,” reports Don Jeffrey of Bloomberg News.

Google, on the other hand, claimed they had always been working together with Rosetta to prevent this kind of activity, saying: “each time Rosetta Stone informed Google that a particular advertiser was selling counterfeit Rosetta Stone products, Google promptly took action including removing the advertisement.”

Rosetta Stone was able to provide testimony from consumers who were tricked into buying counterfeit Rosetta software after clicking a sponsored link which they believed would take them to the genuine product.

Even the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals provided their own evidence, presenting a Google internal study which shows even the Internet Savvy consumer may not be aware that sponsored links are nothing more than paid advertisements.

Advertisers must adhere to specific terms of service when pushing their product on Google. These terms also allow advertisers, such as Rosetta, to complain when their brands are being misrepresented. While the terms of the settlement were not released, it´s likely this case has shed enough light on the matter and sent Google to fortify these terms.