In recent years, the intersection of intellectual property rights and the
digital landscape has given rise to complex legal issues. One such issue is the
use of trademarks as keywords in online advertising, particularly in programs
like Google AdWords. This article delves into a legal analysis of a case where
plaintiffs sought to restrain defendants from using trademarks as keywords in
their advertising, specifically focusing on the case's outcome and its
The plaintiffs in this case, holders of trademarks "Policy Bazaar," "PolicyBazaar,"
and "Policy Bazar," filed a lawsuit against the defendants, alleging that the
defendants were using identical or deceptively similar trademarks as keywords in
the Google AdWords Program. The primary contention of the plaintiffs was that
such use constituted trademark infringement and passing off.
The Court's Decision:
The court's decision centered on whether the use of these trademarks as keywords
could be considered a "use of a trademark" under Section 29(1) of the relevant
trademark act. The court held that keywords in online advertising do not serve
the primary function of identifying the source of goods or services.
Consequently, Section 29(1) of the act, which pertains to trademark
infringement, was deemed inapplicable in this context.
Understanding User Perspective:
The court also considered the perspective of an internet user. It emphasized
that individuals using search engines are generally aware of how these engines
function and the nature of the results they display. From this perspective, the
court reasoned that using a trademark as a keyword alone does not necessarily
result in confusion among users who understand the workings of search engines.
In other words, the mere use of a trademark as a keyword does not automatically
lead to consumer confusion.
Assessment of Damages:
While the plaintiffs argued that the use of their trademarks as keywords
increased the cost of their advertisements and potentially led to additional
hits on the defendant's website, the court did not find these factors sufficient
to establish trademark infringement or passing off. In essence, the court held
that these consequences, while potentially detrimental to the plaintiffs, did
not amount to legal wrongdoing on the part of the defendants.
The Concluding Note:
The case discussed in this article sheds light on the intricate legal issues
surrounding the use of trademarks as keywords in online advertising. It
emphasizes the need to carefully consider the functionality and user perspective
in such cases. While trademark holders may have legitimate concerns about their
brand's online presence, the mere use of trademarks as keywords may not always
constitute trademark infringement or passing off, as demonstrated by the court's
Case Law Discussed:
Case Title: Policy Bazar Insurance Vs Civer fox Insurance
Date of Judgement:06/09/2023
Case No. C.S Comm 259 of 2023
Neutral Citation No: 2023:DHC:6407
Name of Court: Delhi High Court
Name of Hon'ble Judge: Navin Chawla, H.J.
Information and discussion contained herein is being shared in the public
Interest. The same should not be treated as substitute for expert advice as it
is subject to my subjectivity and may contain human errors in perception,
interpretation and presentation of the fact and issue involved herein.
Written By: Advocate Ajay Amitabh Suman
, IP Adjutor - Patent and
Email: [email protected]
, Ph no: 9990389539