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Google Trademark Policy

not consistently enforced under Broad Match



4:10 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've noticed this for a few months now but in at least one industry (for a client), using Broad match for some of their keywords- enables the ad to run under their competitors' trademarked product names (or even the company name).

Further, if you run Google's Keyword Tool with Keyword Popularity, you'd see these trademarks come up as highly searched. And in a further twist, some of Google's own products are being advertised in this space.

Where I'm aware of this (or it's brought to my client's attention), we've disabled this (in the only way I'm aware of) by using the negative keywords feature and specifying the competitors' trademarks. [This, despite the fact that the CTR and other metrics for our ads runs high for these keywords.]

Just saw the thread on Google losing to Vuitton [webmasterworld.com] and it struck me as ironic that in the article, Google claims "that since the case began in 2003, it has implemented a policy barring Internet advertisers from buying search listings under trademarks held by others..."

Has anyone else had the above experience?


4:29 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

As far as I understand it, you can use trademarked terms as your keywords, you just can't use them in your titles or ads. Likewise there's no restriction on using your competitors company names or trademarked terms as keywords - again, as long as you don't use them in the ads.


5:19 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks, Netmeg. That clarification is helpful. The implication in the quote, however, is that you can't use/buy search listings (keywords- is how I interpret that) under other trademarks. Let's go to Google for further clarification:
[google.com ]

The policy is slightly different within the US & Canada as it is for elsewhere in the world. Netmeg is correct for the US & Canada. Google will only "investigate the use of the trademark in ad text". Notice this doesn't prevent the use of trademarked terms if the keyword is embedded in the title tag.

However, outside the US & Canada, Google can "require the advertiser to remove the trademarked term from the ad text or keyword list". Google does mention the Broad match potential repercussions here.

I think there's a lot of room for legal interpretation here- but we'll see in the future how these issues get decided. Again, do others see this happening in their accounts? (I should also add it's entirely possible to me that competitors of my client have no idea that some of their ads, under Broad match, are running for my client's trademarks.)


9:09 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

For these purposes, I'm fairly sure that "ad text" includes the title. The trademarked term can be bid upon - that's it. It can't appear anywhere in the title or text. I have no idea if it can appear in the display url, but I suspect not.

I just tested this out with a trade name for a drug, and the test bears me out - plenty of ads came up for the trade name, but none included the name anywhere in the ad; when I typed in the generic name, got lots of ads with the generic in the title and/or text.


8:19 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I think that a lot of it also depends on where you live, and where the trademaks originate from.

For instance - I live in the U.S. and have some trademark terms that I can use in my ads if I advertise only to the U.S. and Canada. If I extend those ads to other countries my ads will be denied.

Google tries to walk a legal tightrope by complying with each country's laws. In a Global market place it often becomes unfair for some of google's users


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