Improper use of Google AdWords can constitute breach of trademark

April 14, 2014

in Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property: CopyrightThe New Zealand High Court has recently confirmed that improper use of Googles AdWords service can constitute an infringement of trademarks and also misleading and deceptive conduct under the Fair Trading Act.

In the case in question Naked Bus had utilised certain AdWords using the words “Intercity” and variants of those words in advertising its services.

Intercity Group, which held a trademark for the words “Intercity” claimed breach of its trademark and deceptive conduct.

The High Court agreed that Naked Bus arranging for AdWords such as “Intercity” to lead to its advertisements and website through the Google AdWords service constituted a breach under the Trademarks Act and also was likely to deceive or confuse given the similarity between the AdWords adopted by Naked Bus and the trademark “Intercity”.

With the growing use of the internet and Google as a search engine and advertising medium the High Courts extension of protections through modern internet services such as Google AdWords will be of some comfort to trademark holders.

We are regularly advising clients on the implications of eCommerce activities and web based interference with intellectual property rights and can advise you in relation to both your rights if you believe your intellectual property is being infringed and also those contemplating marketing or activities that could potentially infringe so as to avoid potential litigation after the event.

If you require any advice or further information on the matters dealt with in this publication please contact the lawyer at Farry and Co. who normally advises you, or alternatively contact:

Paul Farry

09 379 0055 or 03 477 8870


The information contained in this publication is intended as a guide only.  It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.  Professional advice should be sought before applying any of the information to particular circumstances.  While every reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, Farry and Co. does not accept liability for any errors it may contain. 

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