He was a trademark owner, she was a competitor, he would take her to court over keyword advertising.

In a lawsuit filed recently, Plaintiff Rosetta Stone Ltd. claimed that Defendants Rocket Languages Ltd. et al. infringed Rosetta Stone’s trademarks and engaged in unfair competition. The Plaintiff provides foreign language educational software under the registered mark: Rosetta Stone, and is probably most famous for their clever “farmboy supermodel” ads.

Rosetta Stone claims that the Defendants and their affiliates (competitors of Rosetta Stone) use the Rosetta Stone mark as a keyword in Google and Yahoo! targeted / keyword advertising. Thus, Rosetta Stone contends that “when a consumer [searches for a variation of] ‘ROSETTA STONE’, he is confronted with a list of advertisements from Defendants that either directly offer Rocket Languages products or purport to offer information and reviews of various foreign language software products [, and that the Rosetta Stone mark appears] in the header and text of the resulting sponsored links”. Rosetta Stone also alleges that the Defendants have tarnished the Rosetta Stone mark by running advertisements which state, inter alia, “Rosetta Spanish A Scam?” or “Read These Reviews Before Buying Rosetta Spanish!” Rosetta Stone also alleges that “comparison reviews” of the Defendants are biased and fail to disclose their true source. Finally, Rosetta Stone contends that several hyperlinks on affiliate sites appear to link users with Rosetta Stone, but in fact, link users to Defendants products.

Rosetta Stone alleges that if these actions are permitted to continue, significant monetary and trademark goodwill damages will occur. Rosetta Stone is asking the Court to enjoin the Defendants, inter alia, from using the Rosetta Stone mark in its advertising. Additionally, Rosetta Stone seeks a Court Order that the Defendants remove the Rosetta Stone mark from their keyword advertising.

Given several recent rulings, blogged here, the Court may enter an injunction in favor of Rosetta Stone, though this case may present some interesting comparative advertising questions.


  1. This from another publication:

    Mark Ling, a spokesman for Rocket Languages, said the company prohibits its marketing affiliates from using competitors' search terms in keyword advertising, and has tried to stop them from doing so but has not always been successful.

    "It is against our terms and conditions of our affiliate program for them to bid on competitors trademarked search phrases," Ling said in an e-mail message.

    Hesaid Google has a method by which owners of trademarked terms can stop competitors from buying those terms as keywords, but that Rosetta has refused to employ that procedure.

    Ling also pointed out that Internet users who search for "Rocket Languages" and related terms see ads for Rosetta's products, because Rosetta marketing affiliates bid on Rocket's trademarks in the same way that some Rocket affiliates bid on Rosetta's marks.

  2. Apparently, Rosetta is asking for it if they refuse to employ the procedure to protect their keywords.

    Should have thought about that in the first place. This fight seems petty.

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