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perhaps google's and yahoo's response should simply be to delete ge*co from their databases.
It could also ultimately threaten their livelihood: Google and Overture make money by selling ads linked to keyword-triggered search results, and many commercially driven searches are tied to trademarked brands such as Geico or Nike.
As if Google or Overture stand to lose so much of their revenue that they would go out of business without it.
If Geico wins, it opens the floodgates for everyone to attack on the same grounds, and get their keywords excluded from being used. The amount of work that would have to be performed to make sure everyone is out (that needs to be), I would bet is substantial, costing even more money.
In the case of Google:
How much money (or what percentage of their overall income) is generated from AdWords?
I'm sure the same can be said for Overture.
I'm very interested to see how this plays out.
you're not taking into consideration, though, that this would hurt those that take out ads as well.
the consequence? people stop bidding on trademarks, but start looking harder for generic terms to bid on- and I almost guarantee you the average bid would rise.
it may not completely replace the revenue lost, but it sure would lessen the blow by an absolute ton.
I guess once some numbers get thrown out as to how many terms would be "hands-off", we'll have a better idea as to the magnitude of this.
I still think this has great potential to be big.
One sticky area would be overlapping or identical trademarks. While some trademarks are unique, many trademarks are shared by people in different businesses (e.g., a trademark used for software, industrial pipe, and apparel by different firms). Trying to untangle some of those would be hopeless, and a ban on using them would seem impossible. Similarly, many common words and phrases are trademarks in some contexts. Good luck...
In essence, this is a form of cyber-squating. Google is responsible for their servers and their ad space. If I placed an illegal ad on my webspace, I would get sued, not the company who wants to advertise there.
The solution will be incredibly tough as there are a lot of companies who have common terms in their trademarked name. Can we ban all trademarked names? By all means no.
The case will nonetheless be a landmark one. I think the solution may be that companies wishing to not have their trademarked name appear in the sponsored results can send it a trademark and Google will process it.
Geico does NOT want these ads to dissappear..they only want their piece of the pie!
Geico is now in the drivers seat ..this will stil go to court ..but the decsion on how to handle something as complex as this will be made in the judges chambers.. Both sides will be forced into a settlement because if either side out right wins it would be chaos ..
it's just a matter of the correct formula to pay gieco a cut and every other TM that comes along..consider it a added value tax when it cost you more to bid on terms..that added value TM tax will be the portion that gets dived amoungst TM holders on each term
The fact is this. When you have a trademark, others can't profit off your trademark without your permission. It's no different than placing Google's logo on your site to make it look more professional (which they sure don't like). Google profits off the term Geico which would not be searched if it wasn't for the company. Geico deserves a fair cut.
Considering how strict they are with the use of their own trademarks this is especially poor.
And no, it won't cost Google that much. They already check your creatives and keywords for gambling and pharma keywords automatically - how much more would it cost to check it for trademarks from a database? Not that much and it certainly wouldn't send them bankrupt.
Also it is worth remembering here that if a business does not take steps to protect their trademarks - they could lose the right to exclusive use of that trademark.
The Yellow Pages comparison fails because everyone is positioned under their generic classification, so they all end up sitting next to each other anayway, albeit alphabetically.
The Display Ad analogy in the press works better. Here an ad sales rep will juggle the loyalty of his customers when considering placing competitor B next to or near competitor A, but will nevertheless consider it and will use their trademark as the determinant.
Google's behaviour is based on the advertiser's desire to sit near his competitor, which is more akin to the second analogy - or to a highstreet location - however, they do it, or rather we do it, automatically. But it is not Competitor A's paid-for advertising placement at stake but Google's already established first-amendment opinion about the relevance of a result. And let's face it there are thousands of sites out there that beat the trademark holder to first spot, anyway, in Google's opinion :-)
I hope that Gooogle fight this vigorously because I believe the consumers' best interests are being served by the current situation, and the reasons we have anti-competitive legislation is to encourage competition, which this does.
My feeling is that if a trademark owner can stop a competitor targeting their services in this way, then it amounts to a restraint of trade in this search-driven economy. And that is not a good thing.
The Google twins (Sergey,Larry) made a big deal out their admiration of Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway) during their pre-IPO phase .. (Mr. Buffet even repaid the complement at some point).
Doesn't Warren Buffet own or otherwise have a controling interest in .. Geico?
(not offering a conspiracy theory here, just find this ironic!)
Now if Google has to police trademark issues they will just disallow all trademark ads, hurting many rightful advertisers. So it makes more sense for companies to police their own marks and go after individual advertisers that have no right to the mark. Google should probably institute an e-bay style vero program that might allow registered trademark owners to control who is advertising on their trademarks.
Google has every right to sell ad space to anyone it chooses and I think that out of all of the search engines, Google's definitely the least commercialized.
Other search engines tend to put themselves first, take MSN for example: type in geico and you will see a link to:
Get Free Online Quotes - moneycentral.msn.com
Now that's Greedy! But still, it is MSN's site.
at Yahoo you have to scroll down half the page until you get to geico.com listing.
Google on the other hand makes the geico listing easier to find. They have a cleaner site.
Geico may own the Name but Google owns the site and the page that displays the search results.
How would you like it if someone sued you for the ads you displayed on YOUR Site?! This is Google's site!
Google has always displayed Geico for free in the natural results and in the number 1 position. Geico claims it lost sales?
Geico Gained millions of sales through Google. And what did they pay Google? Not a thin Dime!
If Geico wins this suit I'll eat my Hat!
(and I'll have to Quit my Dayjob!)
So it makes more sense for companies to police their own marks and go after individual advertisers that have no right to the mark.
No, that doesn't make sense for Google: simply because companies will keep taking them to court for facilitating trademark abuses.
As for advertisers not being able to bid on trademarked terms - I'm sure people would still be able to - they would just have to get an 'ok' from the owner of the trademark (just like in the real world).