Google Adwords: Trademark Policy Battle
Imagine opening your Sunday paper and seeing ads from a large supermarket chain that didn’t list actual products for sale; instead, they simply listed the categories of products available – offers like “Buy discount cola” and “Snacks on sale.” The ads wouldn’t be useful since you wouldn’t know what products are actually being offered. For many categories of advertisers, this is the problem they have faced on Google for some time.
That is why, in an effort to improve ad quality and user experience, we are adjusting our trademark policy in the U.S. to allow some ads to use trademarks in the ad text. This change will bring Google’s policy on trademark use in ad text more in line with the industry standard.
Google announced today that they are making updates to the their trademark policy. In the past advertisers were allowed to bid on trademark terms but were not allowed to use trademark terms in their Google Adwords adcopy. However Google has opened up their trademark policy for a few exceptions.
- Resale of the trademarked goods or services: The advertiser’s site must sell (or clearly facilitate the sale of) the goods or services corresponding to a trademark term. The landing page of the ad must clearly demonstrate that a user is able to purchase the goods or services corresponding to a trademark from the advertiser.
- Sale of components, replacement parts or compatible products corresponding to a trademark: The advertiser’s site must sell (or clearly facilitate the sale of) the components, replacement parts or compatible products relating to the goods or services of the trademark. The advertiser’s landing page must clearly demonstrate that a user is able to purchase the components, parts or compatible products corresponding to the trademark term from the advertiser.
- Informational sites: The primary purpose of the advertiser’s site must be to provide non-competitive and informative details about the goods or services corresponding to the trademark term. Additionally, the advertiser may not sell or facilitate the sale of the goods or services of a competitor of the trademark owner.
This actually brings up a whole bunch of questions. Does the site have to be an official reseller? What if a site who wants to buy the term apple ipod decides to add one apple ipod component into it’s product list and then sends users to a list of products (With the ipod component highlighted of course)? Is that ok? Can the informational site be run by a competitor as long as it doesn’t sell or facilitate the sale of their own goods? What if it equally links to all competitors? What if its a “A” vs “B” comparison site and “A” clearly has the better features? Can the company still buy “B” as a trademark term since its a fair informational site?
Lots of Questions. But Google is smart so let’s see how they position themselves for each of these type of scenarios.
Google: Don’t Blame Me, It’s the Advertiser
Google makes it explicit clear that Google is not in the position to arbitrate trademark disputes between advertisers and trademark owners. The advertisers themselves are responsible for their own adcopies and keywords and should be dealt with directly. However they are willing to perform limited investigations into complaints.
How do I Register my Trademark with Google?
Google actually does not register trademarks. You’ll have to register at the national office in which the trademark applies. You can ask Google to do a limited investigation into a trademark issue here.
Director of Online Marketing
SEM – LeadQual