Saturday, August 07, 2010

Its OK to Use Your Competitors Brands

Many of the Google keywords sponsored by companies in AdWords many be generic, or be their own brand names, but some may be a competitors' brand name and used to merely get attention to their own adverts. French courts have already ruled that the practice infringes trade mark rights, which is a view backed by many companies.

However, the European Court of Justice ruled this month that a trade mark right is only infringed if the advert creates confusion about what company is behind the advert. They said that the ad will breach the trade mark owner's rights if it "does not enable average internet users, or enables them only with difficulty, to ascertain whether the goods or services referred to by the ad originate from the proprietor of the trade mark or from an undertaking economically linked to it".

Today Google will not act on a complaint in around 200 countries which in includes the US, the UK, Ireland but will act in all other EU countries. However, Google have said that this will change and on 14th September they will extend its practice in the US, UK and Ireland to all 25 other EU countries, and to almost all other countries. The countries to be excluded will be Australia, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Macau, New Zealand, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan.

"Today, we are announcing an important change to our advertising trademark policy," said Google product manager Dan Stokeley in a blog post. "A company advertising on Google in Europe will now be able to select trademarked terms as keywords. If, for example, a user types in a trademark of a television manufacturer, he could now find relevant and helpful advertisements from resellers, review sites and second hand dealers as well as ads from other manufacturers."

Adwords policy now states, "Advertisers will be able to complain about the selection of their trademark by a third party if they feel that it leads to a specific ad text which confuses users about the origin of the advertised goods and services. Google will then conduct a limited investigation and if we find that the ad text does confuse users as to the origin of the advertised goods and services, we will remove the ad. However, we will not prevent use of trademarks as keywords in the affected regions."


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