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Competitor poaching our Name in PPC
what can be done about this
Andrew Thomas

 12:22 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

Currently our company does not have any PPC keywords, however if you type in our company name, a competitor is using our name as one of their PPC keywords. (our name is very unique and not related to anything, so they are basically poaching our customers)

Is this allowed or can I report this to google and if so, what email address to google do i use




 12:31 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)


Is your company name more than one word?

Andrew Thomas

 1:19 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

No, its one word - I can post the name if allowed and you can see for yourself




 1:27 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

Sticky me


 3:38 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

I wasn't aware that there was anything wrong with that.

A couple months ago I was in need of bulk email software. I typed in the name of the Lousy Software I had, and up popped some competitors in the Adwords. Found exactly what I was looking for.


 4:08 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

There is nothing wrong with what your competitor is doing, IMO.

You can try emailing adwords-support@google.com
If you do get a response, please post it here - I'm curious to know what Google has to say about this.


 4:09 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

You could take the time to place an adword for you name and put the bid at .05. Then email Google to complain that the competitor is using your company name in competition with you. It is in thier guidelines that they can't do that.

Andrew Thomas

 4:26 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the replies...

I took Mike_Mackin advice and have emailed Google adwords about the situation, if i get a reply i will post it here.



 4:27 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

It is in thier guidelines that they can't do that.

Can you show me where they have mentioned that? In editorial guidelines?


 4:59 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

Do you have your company name trademarked? If a competitor is using your trademarked name to promote their own product, I would think that this is clearly illegal. If you don't have your company name trademarked, you probably should. If you don't get satisfaction from Google on this, you probably want to consult a lawyer.

Andrew Thomas

 10:12 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

Ok Ive had a reply from Google Adwords,

They basically say As stated in their Terms and Conditions. "Advertisers are responsible for the keywords and ad text that they choose to use on Google."

As a courtesy to trademark owners, however, we do investigate such matters.

Google will then determine what ads appear when the trademarked term is entered as a search query on google.

They review the content of those ads to ensure that they are not misleading to users.

They ensure that those ads are not improperly using the trademark as a keyword trigger. If they are, those keywords are disabled from the ad campaign.

In order for me to continue with this complaint i need to provide google the following information on company stationary, before the ad is removed :-

1. Name of Company
2. Contact information (including email address)
3. List of trademark(s) at issue and the countries in which each of those rights exist 4. The identity of the advertisement(s) at issue (via the URL stated on the bottom line of the ad)
5. Are you concerned with advertisement's content or the keywords that trigger it?
6. Include the following statement:
'I have a good faith belief that use of the trademarks described above with the advertisements described above is not authorised by the trademark owner or its agent, nor is such use otherwise permissible under law.'
7. Include the following statement:
'I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in this notification is accurate and that I am authorised to act on behalf of the trademark owner.'
8.Your signature.

So i will post this information to Google, and wait to see what happens :)


 10:46 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

Then everything will be solved in this matter Andrew. Good for you! ;)


 4:07 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

As far as it being mentioned under the posted guidlines, no. But they put it under the relevancy clause. Your company/product is not named the keyword company's name/product name so therefore it is not relevant. I know, because I have had ads shut down due to it. They will only enforce it if the owner of the company or product complains but they will enforce it. Overture will do the same thing.


 9:51 pm on Dec 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

Well, I got nailed for another one based on the fact that it is a company trademarked name.

Basically what adwords tells me when they pull an ad because a company complained is, due to trademark complaints, they do not allow advertisers to use certain trademarked terms as keywords for AdWords campaigns.

We are a reseller for many companies products. In this instance, we are selling the products that are what the keywords are. Not even competition, just reselling. The company comes in and lodges a complaint and even though I may be selling actual widgets, I can't use the keyword because my company is not named "Widget" and therefore is not relevant.


 11:02 pm on Dec 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

Good one! I didn't know it was against the rules as there is a lot of this going around.

Thanks for sharing this information with us.


 12:30 am on Dec 10, 2002 (gmt 0)


It might not have been the master company that reported you. Are there other resellers?


 1:04 am on Dec 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

(; Congrats on your deal, I don't use competitors terms for my adwords however If I had any competition I may because I don't see it that wrong unless the name is blatent (c) or tm in some way or another. :P

When you say you could bid on the keyword, thats just playing in on the same game and making the search engines more money. If your concerned than email them like you did and thats the best responce.

If its a product their using and they have the rights to sell, resell, affiliate program i think they have the rights to use the keyword.


 9:32 pm on Dec 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

It may have been another reseller, but I don't think so. When a complaint is made, the keyword and any related keyword groups are shut down. No one can use them. It would not do them any good to shut it down as they would not be able to use it either.


 7:43 pm on Dec 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

An update on my own experience

Google seems to delay taking action on offending sites. I faxed my request on Monday but nothing's happened yet.

In the meantime, a similar request to Overture only took 3 days to process.

I would say that so far, the Overture service is pretty convenient and fast. Well done!


 3:34 am on Dec 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

Alright, stop the insanity!

I have been hit with 3 trademark complaints this week which is a universal record for me. I don't think I have had 3 complaints in 6 months prior to this posting. I am thinking that some of you out there are my not so swift comp.

All of the trademark complaints this week have been products that I am selling the actual product. No "just likes" or "better thans" just widgets for widgets.

Ponder what you are doing before you make a trademark complaint. One of the items that I had shut down this week will no longer be carried by our company because now, (after the internet avenue was shut down) there is not enough sales to justify purchasing more for all our avenues.

Internet sales only account for 10% of overall sales but it was just enough to tip the scales in this case.

Moral of the story, if someone is advertising waffles under your Widgets, fine, hit em where it hurts with your trademark. They deserve it. But if someone is selling your Widgets or affiliating your Widgets and cutting into your Widget online sales, think twice before shutting them down. It is a good way to lose a lot of business.


 4:33 am on Dec 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

I agree with you 100%. It's an unwise policy to punish your distributors.

My client has many distributors of their software, from academic superstores to Yahoo stores and everything in between. I didn't complain about them.

I did however complain about a competitor who has a competing product.

So, I just want to add my voice to yours:

Dudes, your distributors are not your competitors.

Ok. I need a drink now.

:) Y


 7:14 pm on Dec 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

IMHO, this is very shaky legal ground... a grey area.

I happen to think that you should be allowed to trigger advertising based on ANY search keywords at all. Search engine users are not being misled, because the ads triggered are (a) in a space clearly marked off as advertising; (b) relevant to the keywords typed in.

Let's put it this way: let's say ING Direct buys a big billboard in the banking district right across from the tower of one particular large bank. The billboard says: "Can you trust your bank to give you the highest interest rate?" Is that illegal? It's counting on the fact that the logo of that big bank is also in the same field of vision as the billboard. Trademark violation? I think not.

Analogously, do trademark holders own the space that Google sets aside for advertising? Of course not! If they want to advertise there, they should get off their cheapskate asses and do so. Google owns the space, and sells it to advertisers as it sees fit. So this is more of a matter of Google policy, I would argue.

Hey folks, we all know there are other ways to skin this cat. Some company (Gator comes to mind) can decide to track user behavior to the nth degree and figure out which users are typing those trademarked terms, visiting sites with those trademarked terms, etc. (It's called spyware. Microsoft would love to do the same thing. Maybe they already do.) Then the ad serving company can sell that same advertising opportunity packaged differently. The more we shy away from allowing the legit companies like Google from serving legit ads, the more we force advertisers to take drastic measures, and that's bad for everyone.

I could go on, but my view is, if Google does this as a "courtesy" to trademark holders only, they're basically trying to avoid legal messes and will assess which side has fewer legal resources, and rule in favor of the relative heavyweight. In other words, if Wal-Mart sends a cease and desist order, Google will tell the small advertiser to comply.

There is nothing very clear about the legalities here - advertising that is triggered by (clearly relevant) keywords does not necessarily mean that the business that it is doing the advertising is violating the legal principle of "passing off" one's business as actually being the trademark holder's business. In 99% of cases, in fact, there is no "passing off" involved.

The same would go for using meta keyword tags. If trademarked keywords are used to trick users, they're illegal. But if they're used, for example, to denote content about that particular trademark - they can't be illegal, can they? What if you published an article as a consumer advocate about the reliability of Ford vehicles, and tagged the article accurately with meta keywords like "ford, ford recall, repair problems, repair records, defective parts on fords" etc. - Ford might well make efforts to frighten you, but they surely have no legal leg to stand on. What if the title of the article contained the word "Ford," and came up high in search results, and also, what if that page contained ads for Ford competitors? What then? Are we now going to have to censor our titles and site content for fear of what supposedly trademarked content a keyword search tool might retrieve?

In the case of AdWords, as long as your web site contains some kind of comparative information, like "tests show our product is 53% tastier than Pillsbury's," how can the use of the word "Pillsbury" to trigger the advertising - or even in the text of the advertising - be a violation?

Freedom of speech and the right to engage in commercial activity without undue restriction are at issue here, so it's a very important issue, IMO.


 9:48 pm on Dec 17, 2002 (gmt 0)

It is shaky and here is something even shakier. When they shut down a keyword b/c of trademark, they also shut down any and all related misspellings and variations. On every one I lost last week, I was advertising on misspellings that the trademark owner wasn't even on and now, I can't touch those either.

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