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Bidding on someone else's trademark
Posted 02 February 2007 - 01:28 PM
I have a potential client who wants to bid on a name brand that they don't currently sell. I don't really feel right about this. I know I have another client who is really pissed someone is bidding on their name, so I'm at both ends here.
Anyway, I guess I'm wondering what you all think about this. Do you do it?
Posted 02 February 2007 - 01:57 PM
If you look at the .jpg attachment you'll see what I mean. OneUpWeb is a registered trademark. When you do a search for their name in Google, you see them, and one of their primary competitors come up, 1 and 2. OneUpWeb isn't in the competitors ad, but you know that they bid on that as a keyword.
I also don't think that it's unethical, unless the keyword they want to bid on has no relevance to their product or service.
Posted 02 February 2007 - 01:59 PM
My personal thoughts on this is that Google should allow a single ad on the trademark to be placed by the owner of said trademark for the minimum bid (after all, the owner can elect NOT to have a paid placement) and competition should be focused on #2 and below. However, in every single other medium, it's ok to target brand names and trademarks specifically (no one gripes about the coupons given out in some stores targeted towards specific purchases), so I fail to see an ethical dilemma in targeting a trademark as long as you ensure that you set yourself as apart from the trademark (ie an alternative).
In my opinion, there is no ethical dilemma if you are not being deceptive or misleading in any way. Trademark law is to protect the owner from having their brand hijacked, and simply placing an ad where it will be viewed by searchers looking for a specific thing is not hijacking. That said, this doesn't mean (at least in the US) that the trademark owner can't sue you and suck the life out of you in legal fees, even if they ultimately lose.
I will now put on my flameproof suit and wait. hahahaha
Posted 02 February 2007 - 02:07 PM
Posted 02 February 2007 - 02:26 PM
Jeremy- I won't flame you, no worries!
Posted 02 February 2007 - 02:50 PM
How does it do? I'm not telling.
Posted 02 February 2007 - 03:09 PM
Several of our clients are doing great with that tactic...
Just my $.02 (or whatever the minimum bid is these days )
Posted 02 February 2007 - 03:24 PM
Posted 02 February 2007 - 03:27 PM
Posted 02 February 2007 - 03:48 PM
I'm really hoping I don't run into the problem of bidding on the same keyword for multiple companies (which I would not do). Fortunately, these are spread across the US, and with targeting it should be fine.
anyway. Alright, so I'm thinking maybe this is not a bad thing.
Posted 02 February 2007 - 03:50 PM
Perfect scenario for geotargetting, for sure...
Posted 02 February 2007 - 03:59 PM
Generally, I think it's OK to use a trademark as a trigger term, but not in the ad text itself. To continue the Dell/Apple theme, it's analogous to a magazine running an editorial piece on Dell with an Apple ad running alongside it (or vice versa), IMO.
In some specific examples, it's quite ridiculous - and even anti-competitive and therefore possibly illegal, IMO - to not allow trademark use in the ad text. For example, suppose a car manufacturer disallowed use of its trademark in ad text. This would mean that retailers could not advertise used or new models of that car. OTOH, the manufacturer itself could - and could therefore offer a portal that only promoted its approved franchise dealers, locking out the rest of the market. At the same time, the manufacturer could arbitrage clicks - buying them at a low rate from Google, because it is the only advertiser, and selling them at a high rate to its franchise dealers and cutting out independents entirely, because it has been granted a monopoly by Google. Does this sound contrived? It's not. It's happening right now!
Posted 02 February 2007 - 05:15 PM
Posted 02 February 2007 - 05:20 PM
When we receive a complaint from a trademark owner, we only investigate the use of the trademark in ad text. If the advertiser is using the trademark in ad text, we will require the advertiser to remove the trademark and prevent them from using it in ad text in the future. Please note that we will not disable keywords in response to a trademark complaint.
Google’s Keyword Matching Features
the Google AdWords system automatically runs your ads on highly relevant keywords, including synonyms, related phrases, and plurals, even if they aren't in your keyword lists.
Consequently, you should understand that even if the advertiser does not keyword target a particular term such as your brand name, Google may itself decide that the term is relevant and show the advertiser’s ad for that term.
Google feels comfortable operating this way because there have been several cases on this issue. A couple articles of interest on this point are:
A much more in depth treatment of the legal issues may be found at
I believe that if you and/or your lawyer review the case law on this matter you will come to the conclusion that my client's and Google’s advertising practice is in conformance with U.S. trademark law.
BTW, note that I said US trademark law. Trademark law in other countries is often quite different, especially those with legal systems based on the Napoleonic Code.
Posted 02 February 2007 - 11:39 PM
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