The legal fraternity is keenly awaiting a full decision by the apex European Union court on the use of keywords to generate sponsored links on internet search engines, after an adviser to the court recommended that some restrictions be placed on the rights of advertisers to use the names of rivals as keywords.
If the court goes along with the opinion, the decision could make some advertisers more cautious in their purchase of the search ads on Google, one of the fastest-growing areas of marketing in recent years, analysts said.
The opinion was prepared by an advocate general to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, which is reviewing a lawsuit by Interflora, the flower delivery service, against the British retailer Marks & Spencer, which has a competing florist operation.
A search under the word ''Interflora'' on Google's search engine in Britain turns up sponsored advertisements for three different websites: Marks & Spencer's, Asda's and Interflora's.
Interflora argues that this misleads consumers.
The lawsuit is the latest in a series of cases in Europe in which the parameters of search engine advertising, which generates more than $20 billion a year for Google, are being defined.