Google Streamlines AdWords Rules On Using Trademark Keywords

Google has announced an update to its AdWords trademark policy that streamlines the rules on using third-party trademark keywords in campaigns. With the update, Google now has a consistent global policy that allows advertisers to bid ongoogle-legal-law-featured competitor third-party trademark keywords. The update states:

“Starting on 23 April 2013, keywords that were restricted as a result of a trademark investigation will no longer be restricted in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Brazil.

While we will not prevent the use of trademarks as keywords in the affected regions, trademark owners will still be able to complain about the use of their trademark in ad text.”

Note the second sentence. This update pertains to bidding on trademark keywords only. The rules restricting the use of trademark terms in ad copy remain in place.

Advertisers running AdWords campaigns in the affected regions — China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Brazil — can now follow the policy that is already in place in all other regions worldwide.

However, in lieu of several court cases, including the closely watched UK case Interflora vs. Marks and Spencer, which has moved on to the High Court, Google aims to cover itself regarding the use of competitor or other third-party trademark keywords in campaigns. The company essentially states that just because we say you can do this, we’re not telling you that you should:

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.

Beginning April 23rd, keywords that were restricted in the affected regions as part of a trademark investigation will no longer be restricted and may start triggering ads.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords | Google: Legal | Legal: Trademarks


About The Author: writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting. Beyond Search Engine Land, Ginny provides search marketing and demand generation advice for ecommerce companies. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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  • JohnRosato

    This change has had a major impact over here in Australia over the weekend. A number of ad groups including trademarked Ad copy have been turned off due to trademark.

    Looking forward to navigating through the ins and outs of the new policy

  • Jawad Latif

    “Starting on 23 April 2013, keywords that were restricted as a result of a trademark investigation will no longer be restricted in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Brazil.

    This means Ad Copies with trademark keywords can be used in Australia. Isn’t it?

  • Kathy DeGlandon

    My concern is that those who do not have trademark rights are going to be able to use a trademarked term to trigger search, which is now possible in these countries. I represent a major franchisor in the US, and we struggle daily with this kind of problem. Google’s response is that they want to give searchers the best choice if they search for a branded keyword. Why then did we spend all of our marketing dollars branding our names if we cannot use them to increase our sales? Here’s what Google replies to this question:

    Google’s goal is to provide our users with the most relevant
    information, whether from search results or advertisements, and we
    believe users benefit from having more choice. Our policy aims to
    balance the interests of users, advertisers and trademark owners, so we
    will continue to investigate trademark complaints concerning use of
    trademarks in ad text.

    Although they will continue to investigate trademark complaints, it is ultimately the trademark owner’s responsibility to initiate the claim. With the amount of scams that go on in our branded keyword’s category, we could spend all of our time searching down these infringements and spend less time promoting ourselves. We will be watching this policy closely to determine what will be necessary to combat trademark infringement.

  • neilsanderson

    The use of the word “streamlines” in the headline of this article strongly suggests that this change is a good thing, as I’m sure Google wants us to believe. If you’re a small business trying to get search traffic, and you find that big competitors can now buy Adword keywords consisting of your trademarked business name, you might think differently.

  • benlanders

    Did you ask Google if you could link to their page ;-) That’s in their Trademark guidelines…

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