BGH: Full text of AdWord referral now available

The German Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) has now published the full text of its decision in the "bananabay" (I ZR 125/07) case on the use of AdWords (see the IPKat's earlier post here), which includes the question the Bundesgerichtshof has referred to the European Court of Justice under Article 234 EC-Treaty. The other two decisions (PBC, I ZR 139/07 and Beta Layout, I ZR 30/07) are not yet available in their entirety.

The IPKat has attempted to translate the Bundesgerichtshof's very detailed and precise question into English. Please find this - strictly unofficial - translation and the German original set out below for your delectation:

The IPKat's translation attempt:

"Is it trade mark use in the sense of Article 5(1) Sentence 2 (a) 89/104/EEC Directive, if a third party specifies a sign to the operator of a search engine, where that sign is identical to a trade mark, without the trade mark proprietor's consent as a keyword for the purpose that when the sign, which is identical to the trade mark, is entered as a search term in the search engine, a sales-promoting electronic link to the website of the third party will be displayed, which serves as advertisement for identical goods and services, and which is displayed in a advertising block that is separate from the actual search results, provided this link is marked as an advertisement und provided the advertisement itself does not include the sign, nor a reference to the trade mark proprietor or a reference to the products offered by the trade mark proprietor?"
The Bundesgerichtshof's German original:

"Liegt eine Benutzung im Sinne von Art. 5 Abs. 1 Satz 2 lit. a der Richtlinie 89/104/EWG vor, wenn ein Dritter ein mit der Marke identisches Zeichen ohne Zustimmung des Markeninhabers einem Suchmaschinenbetreiber gegenüber als ein Schlüsselwort (Keyword) zu dem Zweck angibt, dass bei Eingabe des mit der Marke identischen Zeichens als Suchwort in die Suchmaschine ein absatzfördernder elektronischer Verweis (Link) zur Website des Dritten als Werbung für identische Waren oder Dienstleistungen in einem von der Trefferliste räumlich getrennten Werbeblock erscheint, dieser Verweis als Anzeige gekennzeichnet ist und die Anzeige selbst weder das Zeichen noch sonst einen Hinweis auf den Markeninhaber oder auf die von diesem angebotenen Produkte enthält?"

This Kat welcomes alternative, more elegant translations from our readers, while we are awaiting the official translation.

The decision can be viewed in its entirety (in German) by clicking here.

BGH: Full text of AdWord referral now available BGH: Full text of AdWord referral now available Reviewed by Birgit Clark on Tuesday, March 03, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. Hello IPKat,
    my comment relates back to an earlier posting concerning this case, where the IPKat expressed his concern over the term 'use as a trade mark'. Is this an example where legislature is limping behind technology? I would assume that the necessity to use the mark 'as a trade mark' was conceived to prevent the registered user from hogging a desirable mark, but now it may be a sneaky way to permit infringement, because arguably in this case the third party and search engine designers didn't use the mark as a trade mark, which the operators and designers of the search engines, who use the mark to guide users to their own product, would be rather aware of. As technology marches ahead, I would expect courts to be flexible in their interpretation, in order to give effect to the underlying intent of the law. Or is that naive?
    Also, I look at the unofficial translation from German to English, and thought it was perfectly fine.

    Good night


All comments must be moderated by a member of the IPKat team before they appear on the blog. Comments will not be allowed if the contravene the IPKat policy that readers' comments should not be obscene or defamatory; they should not consist of ad hominem attacks on members of the blog team or other comment-posters and they should make a constructive contribution to the discussion of the post on which they purport to comment.

It is also the IPKat policy that comments should not be made completely anonymously, and users should use a consistent name or pseudonym (which should not itself be defamatory or obscene, or that of another real person), either in the "identity" field, or at the beginning of the comment. Current practice is to, however, allow a limited number of comments that contravene this policy, provided that the comment has a high degree of relevance and the comment chain does not become too difficult to follow.

Learn more here:

Powered by Blogger.