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Federal Judge Refuses to Dismiss Google Lawsuit[- hide]

“Google and The Home Depot in Legal Hot Water from its Ad Words”

November 5th, 2012 – Los Angeles, CA – One of the most recent Ad Words actions has Google and The Home Depot in hot water.  A look at the lawsuit shows that the plaintiff, Home Decor Center, Inc., alleges to have been receiving a high volume of customer complaints as its home décor goods sales decreased by as much as sixty percent. Upon investigation, the plaintiff discovered that when a user uses Google’s search engine to search for its registered trademark “Home Decor Center” or its related website “HomeDecorCenter.com,” the user would find a Google Ad Words result showing a link titled “www.HomeDecorCenter.com” or “Home Decor Center.”  Now, normally this would not be a problem.  However, when the users clicked on these links, they would find themselves at a completely different website, “HomeDecorators.com,” which is also a home décor business that sells similar products and is owned by The Home Depot.  Interestingly, these advertisements also claimed to be the “official Website for Home Decor Center.com,” despite the fact that they were in no way related to the plaintiff’s business or website.  The plaintiff claims that because of this mass confusion, it has lost a high volume of customers, many of which have called the plaintiff under the impression that the HomeDecorators.com website was affiliated with the plaintiff’s business and were demanding refunds for products they bought from Home Depot’s website.

While the action was initially filed in the California Superior Court, Google and Home Depot removed the case to the District Court. It appears that Google has lost the first round of this legal battle, when its motion to dismiss the Plaintiff’s lawsuit in its entirety was denied for the most part, holding that the plaintiff’s action is not barred by the Communications Decency Act due to Google’s alleged direct involvement with the creation of the content of these advertisements. Presently, the plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint alleges Trademark Infringement and Unfair Business Practices (among other things) by both Google and Home Depot and both defendants have proceeded to file answers, denying all of the plaintiff’s allegations.  A jury trial is currently set for this matter for June 25, 2013.

Google is represented by Bostwick & Jassy LLP in this matter, and Home Depot is represented by Crone Hawxhurst, both Los Angeles firms, while Plaintiff is represented by the Law Offices of Christopher K Jafari in Irvine, California.

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