By Andrew S. Hazen, Esq.
Google has just announced a revision to its AdWords Trademark policy. If you don’t already know what Google AdWords are, here are the basics: Google AdWords are keyword-driven ads that appear along the right-hand side of your Google search results page. People who search for terms related to those you select will see your ad alongside the results of their search. It used to be the case that using trademarks as keywords in ads was restricted. According to Google’s new policy, starting April 23, 2013, these keywords will no longer be restricted in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Brazil.
Here are some questions and answers about the new policy:
How does the revised policy affect which ads can be shown?
Google will no longer prevent advertisers from using a third party’s trademark as a keyword in ads targeting these regions.
Why did Google change its trademark policy?
Google’s goal is to provide its users with the most relevant information, whether from search results or advertisements, and its users will benefit the most from having more choices. This new policy aims to balance the interests of users, advertisers, and trademark owners. This change also means that the AdWords policy on trademarks as keywords is now harmonized throughout the world. A consistent policy and user experience worldwide benefits users, advertisers, and trademark owners alike.
Does this policy change impact the usage of trademarks in ad text?
No. This policy change relates to the use of trademarked terms as keywords. Trademark owners will still be able to complain about the use of their trademark in ad text.
Who is affected by the policy change?
Google’s revised trademark policy applies to trademarks registered in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Brazil. This policy is already in effect in all other regions throughout world.
What will happen to existing trademark complaints?
Starting April 23, 2013, if you have an existing complaint on file with Google that includes both keywords and ad text in one of the affected regions, Google will continue to restrict the use of the trademark in ad text only.
Will Google respond to trademark complaints in the affected regions?
Yes. With respect to use of trademarks in ad text in the affected regions, advertisers will be able to submit trademark complaints.
Will trademark terms in my account start triggering ads?
Keywords that were previously restricted as a result of a trademark investigation may begin triggering your ads in the affected regions. If you do not want your ads to run in response to certain keywords, you can remove those keywords from your AdWords campaigns or add them as negative keywords.The practical effect of this policy change is that your competitors may now use your trademarks as keywords in Google AdWords. This includes the ability of your competitors to advertise themselves using terms such as your company or product names as keywords.