Google and France: Place Your Bets

August 4, 2010

I am not an expert on French law. In fact, I know considerably more about French fries, French kissing and French cricket than I do about French law. But I have gained the impression that the French courts are out to get Google and eBay. So I was surprised by the extension of the Google policy on trade mark complaints from laid-back Ireland and the laissez-faire UK to most of the rest of Europe and various other places (including, gloriously, the {Glorioso Islands:} which I didn’t previously know existed but which are presumably inhabited by Google entrepreneurs currently serving in the French Foreign Legion). The news story about it is {here:}.

I think this is a bold move. The AdWords judgments leave a fair amount of room for domestic courts to rule on trade mark breaches on the particular facts before them. And we all know that facts are like beauty – ie pretty obvious to the vast majority but beheld very differently by a perverse few. While I am not suggesting that the French judiciary are perverse, or at least I am not suggesting that they are any more perverse than the judiciary as a whole, I did wonder if the {‘blog officel Google AdWords en francais’:} revealed a lack of confidence in the new policy’s chances of being deemed lawful in France. The relevant entry is entitled ‘Changement appliqué aux règles aux matière de publicité: faîtes vos jeux!’

Isn’t ‘faîtes vos jeux!’ what they say as the roulette wheel spins and the ball is about to be thrown?

I don’t think that the path to a successful fortune really involves roulette, even if the French version is preferable to the Russian. I think even Google thinks it is taking a gamble.