An international trademark case being tried in the European Union could have a major impact on Google’s flagship advertising software, AdWords.

The case in question is between British retailer Marks & Spencer and Interflora — with the latter claiming that the former bought up trademarked terms on Google’s display ad system to undermine the success of its flower delivery businesss.

Judges in the European Court of Justice said Marks & Spencer was essentially misleading Internet shoppers by failing to differentiate its use of the Interflora trademark from its own flower distribution business — which is entirely unrelated.

In a non-binding statement, Niilo Jaaskinen said: “The trademark proprietor has the right to prohibit the use of the keyword in advertising by the competitor in question.”

However, the judge noted that Google had not infringed any trademark laws by selling the trademarked keywords to third parties.

Meanwhile, Google is set to launch its first video AdWords solution, which allows marketers to display video content on the company’s search engine listings.

Google AdWords could be hit by trademark ruling

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