The insurer charged the two companies with infringing on its trademarks when they sold them as keywords to Geico's rivals, so that the protected terms could appear in sponsored search results. According to the suit, that practice causes consumer confusion, in violation of the Lanham Act, the primary federal law covering trademark registration and protection.
"This practice deliberately misleads consumers and allows Geico's competitors and these defendants to illegally exploit for their own commercial purposes Geico's investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in its brand," company spokeswoman Janice Minshall wrote in an e-mail.
The insurer is seeking damages and an injunction against Google's and Overture's use of its service marks in their advertising programs.
According to Geico's complaint, the insurer considered Google's policy change before pursuing legal action: "Google's recent change in trademark policy constitutes a deliberate decision to use the registered trademarks of other companies, including Geico, for the financial benefit of Google and to the detriment of (others)."
Google faces a number of lawsuits similar to Geico's. Louis Vuitton sued Google and its French subsidiary for similar alleged trademark infringement, and a French court ordered Google to cease the practice and pay a fine. In January, American Blind and Wallpaper Factory filed suit against Google in a New York federal court, alleging trademark infringement.
Seems like a lot of lawsuits for one brand new IPO about to birth.