As Google Adwords is a keyword-triggered ad platform, what is included within those keywords can be determinative for their success rates and should, therefore, be thought through with care and consideration.
As Trademark Infringement is a current topic within Intellectual Property Law news, it is worth knowing the risks of this within Google Adwords.
Google AdWords – Trademarks
When a business or company creates an Adword on Google, they must select a range of Keywords to attach to it. When a Google user places a search using one or more of those attached words, the ad is likely to be displayed to that user, increasing that companies’ revenue. However, using certain keywords can prove difficult and very problematic, specifically if those keywords are registered as a trademark. This is common practice when a company is trying to target a specific group within their audience, although, is something to be cautious of.
The use of a Trademark as a keyword within ads is authorised within the United Kingdom, as well as Canada, Australia, The United States and New Zealand. If the owner of the trademark has permitted its availability, other companies and businesses are able to use it within their Adwords’ keywords. If the trademark owner has not authorised its use, but is it present within other businesses’ Google Adwords, the trademark owner must fill in and submit Google’s authorisation form.
Google AdWords – Bidding on trademarks?
The term ‘bidding’ here refers to the use of trademarks as keywords within your Adword, and where more than one company wishes to use it as a keyword, the higher the payment given to that keyword, the higher up their Adword will appear on the search engine results. It is important to understand when this will and will not result in trademark infringement.
As Google has allowed businesses to purchase trademarked terms, to attach to their Adwords, regardless of the trademark owner’s wishes trademark infringement should be understood. The bidding process is not what puts the bidder at risk of trademark infringement, it is what the Adword will imply when using the trademarked keyword.
As Google does not prevent businesses from using trademarked words as keywords in their Adwords, brands have attempted to retain their intellectual property rights back via the courts. These cases provide guidance on what may and may not amount to trademark infringement in these situations. It has often resulted in courts encouraging competition with Adwords, rather than protecting the intellectual property rights of the trademarks’ owners.
It is assumed that, to prevent trademark infringement when trademark bidding in Google Adwords, two conditions must be met:
- The page/business the trademarked keyword takes you to, must contain the trademarked term used.
- The business using the trademark in question, must not be in competition with the trademark owner, with the provision of additional value encouraged.