Playboy Enterprises Inc. lost an initial lawsuit against Netscape and Excite but won on appeal, and the defendants chose to settle. The Geico lawsuit against Google originally included Overture as a defendant, but Overture settled.
"Geico will continue to aggressively enforce its trademark rights against purchasers of its trademark on search engines and against search engines that continue to sell its trademarks," said Charles Davies, Geico's general counsel, in a statement.
For now, last week's decision is a small victory that Google is happy to have won. "It confirms that our policy complies with the law, particularly the use of trademarks as keywords," said David Drummond, Google's vice president and general counsel, in a statement.
Calling the ruling "a victory for consumers," Drummond also sought to extend its significance beyond the scope of the Geico litigation. "This is a clear signal to other litigants that our keyword policy is lawful," he said.
Google is a defendant in the Pets Warehouse, American Blind & Wallpaper and Rescuecom lawsuits, and the plaintiff in its own lawsuit against American Blind & Wallpaper, in which it seeks a declaratory judgement that its search engine ads based on trademark keywords don't violate the defendant's trademarks.
Although last week's ruling doesn't establish any precedent beyond that case, Google will try to get as much mileage out of the ruling as possible, Arent Fox's Sheldon said.