Keyword Ad Lawsuit Isn’t Covered By California’s Anti-SLAPP Law

24 08 2015

[note: ed– there’s another tricky issue lurking here, that Prof. Goldman doesn’t mention: even though it’s not DIRECTLY applicable, the more that courts say that search terms are “commercial,” the more likely that trademark litigation will hinge on whether search terms are a “use in commerce.” If/when courts settle that in favor of “yes, they are,” the Google-type auction model might be in real trouble. To his credit, Prof. Goldman provides a long list of relevant cases at the bottom of this post]

August 22, 2015 · by 
The plaintiff, Los Angeles Yellow Cab, and defendants compete in the taxi industry. The defendants bought keyword ads at the search engines, such as the following triggered by the search “Yellow Cab Los Angeles”:

Yellow Cab Los Angeles—Call 800–521–8294 or Book Online!
Our Cabs get you there Fast & Safe.

The plaintiff claimed this ad constituted false advertising (per B&P 17200 and 17500 and the Lanham Act) because the phone number and website misled consumers to contact one of the defendants instead of Yellow Cab Los Angeles.

The defendants moved to strike the lawsuit per California’s anti-SLAPP law.


Case citation: L.A. Taxi Cooperative, Inc. v. Independent Taxi Owners Association of Los Angeles, 2015 WL 4970092 (Cal. App. Ct. Aug. 20, 2015)







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