Change to Google’s Adwords trademark policy: our view

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Esendex is a registered European Community Trademark and in the past we have vigourously defended its status. There have been several past incidents of competitors bidding on the keyword Esendex within Google Adwords and we have always successfully defended this as “passing off”. This approach has been supported by Google’s own policy. 

Unfortunately Google have now changed their policy (see below) so that they will no longer support these claims, restiricting their activity to a “courtesy” review of complaints about actual Adword text.

This change of heart is extremely disappointing. We still believe such advertising to be wrong and our policy continues:

  • to vigourously defend our trademark and
  • not to bid on competitors’ trademarks or brands.

What’s changing in AdWords Trademark Policy? When?

Google has made a policy revision that applies to complaints we receive regarding trademarks in the UK and Ireland. For complaints received on or after Friday, April 4, 2008, we will no longer review a term corresponding to the trademarked term as a keyword trigger. However, we will continue to perform a limited courtesy investigation of complaints regarding ad text purported to be in violation of a trademark.

Beginning May 5, 2008, keywords that were disabled as a result of a trademark investigation will no longer be restricted in the UK and Ireland.

Why did Google change its trademark policy?

We want advertisers to use keywords that are most relevant to their business and our user’s interests. Google’s goal is to provide our users with the most relevant information, whether it is from our search results or advertisements. A key to achieving this goal with our ads is providing relevant choices and giving users the opportunity to determine which ads they find most relevant.

Who’s affected by the policy change?

Google’s revised trademark policy applies to trademarks held in the UK and Ireland. We will continue to handle trademark complaints for all other countries pursuant to the existing trademark policy.

What will happen to existing trademark complaints?

– Complaints received prior to April 4, 2008: We will investigate complaints against trademark use in ad text and keywords. Complaints will be processed according to the current policy.

– Complaints received on or after April 4, 2008: If the complaint requests that we prevent use of the trademark in ad text, we will continue our efforts to support this request. Complaints will be processed under our revised procedure.

– All Complaints: Beginning in May 2008, keywords that were disabled as a result of a trademark complaint and investigation will no longer be restricted in the UK and Ireland.

Will Google respond to any trademark complaints in relation to the UK and Ireland?

Yes. With respect to the UK and Ireland, Google will perform limited courtesy investigations of reported trademark violations and complaints related to ad text.

What are your plans to extend this policy to additional countries?

Local laws and business customs differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The revised policy applies to UK and Ireland only.

Will trademark terms in my account start triggering ads?

Keywords that were disabled as a result of a trademark investigation may begin triggering your ads in the UK and Ireland, starting May 5, 2008.

Does this mean that I can now use trademark terms as keywords?

Google is not in a position to make recommendations regarding the use of terms corresponding to trademarks. If you have further questions, we encourage you to contact your legal counsel and consult the AdWords Terms and Conditions.

How do I change who is authorized to use my trademark?

If you would like to update your current trademark complaint to edit the list of authorized users of your trademark, you can send us a list of which authorized users, if any, are allowed to use your trademarked terms in their keywords and/or creatives. You’ll find information about our trademark complaint procedures online at http://www.google.com/tm_complaint.html.

Since there may now be competition with my ads, can you help me improve my natural search results?

The AdWords program, including the selection of an AdWords ad or AdWords ads content, is unrelated to the ranking of sites on our natural search results. To protect the integrity of our site, we clearly distinguish between search results and advertising. While we understand your concern regarding our recent revision of trademark policy, we may not influence the ranking of any site listed within Google Search results. Google’s order of results is automatically determined by several factors, including our PageRank algorithm. Please check out our ‘Why Use Google’ page for more detail. The best way to ensure a results listing on Google is for many other sites to link to you. I also recommend that you visit our webmaster section. This section is designed to answer all of your concerns and questions regarding your business or website’s presence within the Google search engine.

Who should I contact if I have further questions about this policy change?

You can email trademark-policy-revision@google.com regarding any questions you might have about the policy change.