A senior judge in the EU Court of Justice says Google should be allowed to continue selling search terms using trademarked keywords.
The legal opinion that the practice is not trademark infringement is good news for Google in its long-running battle with trademark owners.
The brand owners are attempting to extend trademark ownership to control all uses of their brand name.
They are unhappy that, when Google users search for their brands, Google ads for competing products appear alongside the search results.
The judge said Google had not broken any rules by allowing any advertiser to buy search terms, known as AdWords, associated with brand names.
But Google could be held liable if brand owners can show that Google’s ads have damaged their trademarks.
The brand owners are challenging Google’s sale of AdWords in the French courts and the EU Court of Justice has been asked to rule on the controversial issue.
The high-level legal opinion in favour of Google is not binding, but observers have said it is likely to influence the outcome of the case.
The EU Court of Justice is not expected to make an official ruling on the case for several months.