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Who has the right to specify which ads show on ppc?

Search engines or trademark owners?

1:39 pm on Jul 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Following on from a couple of discussions recently regarding the banning of ppc brand advertising for affiliates, for a couple of the companies mentioned in those threads, I noticed the following for searches on Yahoo UK:

Search for IBM computers and you get banner advertising from Dell
Search for Ladbrokes and you get banner advertising from William Hill

Assuming there is no mention of any trademark word in the ad or the site, I am therefore wondering if trademark owners actually have any legal rights as to which ads can run on any specific page - in particular, in the ppc section.

Presumably, there are two ways to look at this:

1 The page belongs to the search engine and they can run whatever ads they feel appropriate on the page in question - by specifying a keyword, the advertiser is in fact merely saying they would like their ad to run on a specific page.

2 The search term belongs to the trademark owner and this does legally determine what is allowed to be advertised on any particular page.

Looking at the examples from Yahoo and the way law seems to run in traditional print media, I would be inclined to come down on the side of the first argument, but would be interested in other opinions.

1:58 pm on July 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member shak is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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the big issue which will be next to be raised is the actual "class" of trademark.

in other words Apple could have the trademark for "computers" but NOT for food...

this is the bit most have NOT yet picked up, a search on UK trademark database reveals some interesting stuff, and no doubt TM lawyers will be joing the bandwagon very soon...


12:57 pm on July 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Very interesting Shak - had a look through the UK trademarks - if I understand you correctly then, lawyers will be looking to sue others with the same trademark and classification as that of their clients.

It would seem in the UK:

1 A trademark does not even have to be registered to legally prove itself as such (in other words, in the eyes of the law, there are various ways apart from registration to prove trademark ownership).

2 Damages against trademarks can be claimed retrospectively.

This certainly makes it very risky for anyone flaunting potential/pending trademarks, especially on the net, where many cases haven't yet been proven. It will be interesting over time to see how far the lawyers can take internet trademark issues and essentially, the reason I was addressing the question above.