How To Protect Your Brand Under Google’s New Trademark Policies

If you are a Google Adwords customer you may have read that the Adwords' trademark enforcement policies are going through a big change which will impact the control that you have over use of your brands on paid search.  The new policies will impact you starting on June 4th and June 15th, 2009. Earlier this week, Brad Geddes discussed the changes and how they would impact ecommerce sites and affiliates. Today, I want to focus on brand owners, offering cautions and recommendations to make sure you fully protect your brands when the changes take effect. When it comes to trademarks, there a [...]

How Will Google’s Recent Trademark Changes Affect You?

Google has recently made two big changes regarding trademark usage within AdWords. One is a shift in the number of countries where trademarked words are allowed as keywords. The other is how trademarked words are allowed in ad copy within the US. Google’s trademark policy has been rehashed in several large media outlets. Unfortunately, most of them got it wrong. So to clarify, here is a rough overview of the current AdWords trademark policy for the US, UK, Ireland, and Canada: Any trademarked term can be used as a keyword Any trademarked term can be used in ad copy If the trademar [...]

Google Finds No Data Misuse In Shoemoney Trademark Case

Earlier this month, my Why Hasn’t Google Cleared, Fired Or Suspended Accused AdWords Employee? article asked why Google hadn't yet publicly commented about accusations that one of their employees may have abused the AdWords system for his own benefit. Now the company is speaking up -- and saying it has found no wrongdoing. Google's sent me this statement: The privacy and security of our users and advertisers' account information is a top priority for us, and our internal policies prohibit any use of non-public advertiser data for personal gain. After a thorough investigation, we fo [...]

Google To Allow Trademarks To Be Used In AdWords Copy In US

Google, which recently liberalized the use of trademark terms as a trigger for showing ads, has again opened up its ad policies to allow trademark terms to be used within ad copy, in certain circumstances, within the United States. Currently, registered trademark holders can request that Google prevent their trademarks from being used in ad copy. Trademarks can still be used by anyone to trigger ads, however. Beginning June 15th, this will change -- as long as the advertiser is a reseller of a product or is providing information about it. How It Works Let's use Apple as an examp [...]

Google Employee Required To Hand Over AdWords Account Details

We obtained documents on a court order that the judge issued in the Jeremy Schoemaker case against a Google employee for trademark infringement. Both Jeremy and the defendant filed motions, in which the court ordered the defendant to hand over the historical data of his AdWords account, amongst other items. The court order, which is embedded below, gives Jeremy the right to conduct jurisdictional discovery prior at this point in time. Which means he can subpoena Google, the Googler and his ISP for information related to the case. Technically, I believe, this means Jeremy can be granted [...]

Google Sued For Infringing On All Texas Trademark Owners

Eric Goldman reports that Google was sued yesterday by FBX for infringing on the trademarks of all of the Texas trademark owners. Yes, this is a massive class action suit, not just against Google but also against YouTube, AOL, Tuner, MySpace and IAC. We have had many suits filed against Google over trademark infringement in the AdWords system, but this one differs in that it is a class action lawsuit. Eric said it best, "If a plaintiff's lawyer could win an injunction on behalf of every trademark owner in the state of Texas, that could bring Google to its knees. Surely Google would be wil [...] CEO Spanfeller Attacks Google, Stumbles Into His Own Cesspool

Another publisher is complaining that Google isn't giving them their "fair share" -- this time Forbes CEO Jim Spanfeller. Google makes $60 million off the Forbes brand, he claims (with no proof), and boosting "quality publishers" like Forbes would help Eric Schmidt's web sewage problem. This is from the publication that sells paid links that helps the sewage rise in Google? I've already dissected some of the misconceptions that Spanfeller and other publishers have about Google in my Sorry, Tom Curley: Don’t Expect A Google Ranking Boost For The AP post from last week. This time, I'l [...]

Google AdWords Opens Up Trademarked Bidding To Most Countries

BrandVerity tipped me off to news that Google has modified its AdWords trademark policy to allow bidding on trademarked terms in 190 new countries. The policy is in line with the same trademark policy that we have in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland. I asked Google for a comment on this change, which went into place yesterday. Google said: Yesterday, we announced an upcoming change to our trademark complaint procedure for AdWords in many regions around the world - a full list can be found here. This change was already made in the US and Canada in 2004 and the UK [...]

Why Hasn’t Google Cleared, Fired Or Suspended Accused AdWords Employee?

Google takes plenty of well-publicized heat for things it hasn't really done or concerns that get hyped. But in the case of one of its AdWords employees being accused of bypassing AdWords policies for his own benefit, I'm surprised the Big G isn't being dragged over the coals. Over a month after the initial accusations, the person appears to still be fully employed at Google, without Google issuing any public comment about the case. In early April, Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker filed suit against Keyen Farrell -- a Google AdWords account coordinator -- alleging that Farrell was infr [...]

An Update On ShoeMoney Vs. Google Employee Trademark Case

We have an update on the story "Google Employee Alleged To Have Bypassed AdWords Trademark Policy For Own Benefit" from about a month ago. Keyen Farrell, the Google AdWords employee, has filed his documents with the court. I have attached those documents below for you to read. In short, Keyen Farrell claimed he did not know that ShoeMoney was a trademarked term. He said that Google is to blame if the keyword was put into the ad system, because he was using the Google system and it must have allowed it. But as Danny showed earlier, the Google trademark system did not allow him to place [...]

Small Business Owner Sues Google & Others Over ‘Android’ Name

An Illinois small business owner is suing Google and 46 other companies because he says they're infringing on his business name: Android Data. Forbes reports that the lawsuit was filed Tuesday, and seeks almost $100 million in damages from Google and all other companies in the Open Handset Alliance, which includes T-Mobile, Motorola, Toshiba, Sprint Nextel, Qualcomm, and others. Erich Specht formed Android Data in 1998, and had the name trademarked in 2002. His attorney, Martin Murphy, gave this statement to Forbes: "Basically, it's a stolen name. It's our trademark, and Google is usin [...]

Google Employee Alleged To Have Bypassed AdWords Trademark Policy For Own Benefit

Well-known internet marketer Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker has filed suit against Keyen Farrell, apparently a Google employee alleged to have used Schoemaker's US-registered trademark in search ads on Google. While issues over trademarks in search ads are heating up, the bigger issue in the case is why Google itself didn't take action to stop the ads and whether an employee did indeed access Schoemaker's AdWords account to gain competitive data. Google's trademark policy allows for trademarks to "trigger" ads -- make ads appear when a trademark word is involved in a search query -- [...]

Court: Trademarked Keywords Can’t Be Used By Third Parties In AdWords

Last week the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in the Rescuecom v. Google case that has some potentially serious implications for all concerned. The appellate court has jurisdiction over cases arising in Connecticut, New York, and Vermont but the case has national impact because of the way that AdWords is operated and administered. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) decries the ruling, which found that use of trademarked keywords in AdWords, even though they don't appear in ad text, constitute a potential violation of trademark law. Here's the EFF's explanation of what [...]

Why Do Lawyers From Utah Hate Search Ads?

Eric Goldman reports that Utah, for the third time, is trying to regulate keyword advertising by proposing new law. The first two times they failed, but they are hoping the third time will be a charm. This revised law proposal, HB 450, is trying to prevent registered marks as triggers for keyword advertising but specifically excludes the search engines from being liable, themselves. So this new law only is for advertisers plus it holds affiliates' keyword purchases liable for (what I think is) the telephone directory assistance industry. Keep in mind, Utah didn't get the law passed thei [...]

Yahoo Doesn’t Take Beef Over Akaushi Keyword Lawsuit

Eric Goldman covers a recent lawsuit where Heartbrand Beef, Inc. sued several companies, including Yahoo, for selling the keyword "Akaushi" to Lobel's of New York. Akaushi is a very expensive Japanese type of beef, known for being marbled with fat and coming out extremely tender. Lobel's does not sell Akaushi, but Heartbrand is the largest Akaushi cattle company outside of Japan and they felt that Lobel's was being deceitful with their ads at Yahoo. Heartbrand also felt Yahoo allowing the ad "constituted Lanham Act false designation of origin and common law unfair competition," said Gold [...]

Google Wins “Gu Ge” Lawsuit In China

Google Wins Lawsuit on Name, Trademark of Subsidiary in China from Bloomberg reports that Google has won the lawsuit over Google's trademark on its Chinese subsidiary "Gu Ge." The Beijing Haidian District Court ruled that Beijing Guge Science and Technology has to pay Google China 100,000 yuan ($14,624). In addition, Beijing Guge is required to stop using the name. The suit was first filed back in July 2007, where Beijing Guge sued Google for the use of the name. The court case began in December of that year, but then I thought it was dismissed. It appears that Beijing Guge's case was [...]

Who Coined The Term SEO?

Someone's trying to trademark the term SEO, which has roiled the SEO community. The someone is named Jason Gambert, and he has filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, claiming to have coined the term "SEO" (for Search Engine Optimization). SEOMoz and others have moved to challenge Gambert's claim. As the person (along with my partner Leland Harden), who actually did coin the term Search Engine Optimization back in 1995, I feel uniquely qualified to weigh in on the validity of Gambert's claim. Jason Gambert asserts that he was the first to use the term SEO, in a 2007 email. The act [...]

Using Competitive Intelligence To Protect Your Brand

Protecting your brand online is an ongoing activity. It requires hard work and due diligence. One area of concern is when others bid on your brand, or use your brand name in their ads. My current understanding of Google's policy is that it's OK to bid on a competitive brand name, but it is not OK to use in your ad. Yahoo's policy appears to be a bit stricter, and does allow for the possibility of prohibiting the bidding on a trademarked term. So how big a problem is this? Let's look at some data, courtesy of Hitwise for searches on the brand name "Orbitz": A quick look at thi [...]

American Airlines And Google Settle Keyword Lawsuit

American Airlines Drops Google Trademark Lawsuit from Bloomberg reports that the two sides have settled the search ad legal dispute. Each side has agreed to pay their own legal fees and the terms of the settlement were not disclosed. American Airlines sued Google about a year ago over trademark infringement in their AdWords product. In short, American Airlines did not want Google to allow advertisers to bid on the following terms: American Airlines, American Airlines Deal, Free AA Travel Offers,, AmericanAirlines, American Airline, AmericanAirlines Com, www.americanai [...]

Competitors Taking Action Against Competitors For Search Ad Trademark Infringement

Search ads trigger trademark lawsuit from rival from reports on another search ad trademark lawsuit. This one differs in that the plaintiff is not suing a search engine, but rather suing his competitor. NameSafe sued LifeLock for allegedly allowing one of their resellers to show search ads with NameSafe's trademarks within the ad copy. The ads were triggered on a search for [namesafe], and the ads contained "Namesafe" in the title of the ad. Namesafe is not objecting to buying the keyword [namesafe] but rather using the trademark in the ad text. Most search ad trademark policies [...]

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