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Boost your business with trademarked keywords a guide to winning bids

By James Wan

What you need to know (in a nutshell)

  1. You can use trademarks, even ones you don’t own, in your keyword bidding strategy for Google Ads and other search engine advertising services.
  2. Bidding on a trademarked keyword is unlikely to confuse consumers and therefore most courts have ruled that such activity is not considered trademark infringement.
  3. However, with the increasing use of mobile devices, there is a risk of trademark infringement cases for bidding on trademarked keywords increasing and trademark owners should be vigilant in guarding their trademark and checking that It’s not misused by competitors in keyword bidding or online advertising campaigns.

Full Article

Trademark registration may provide businesses with a sense of security, but in the realm of digital advertising, the lines are blurred. While using competitors’ trademarks in keyword bidding on platforms like Google Ads is legally permissible, the question of whether it’s advisable remains. Businesses must weigh the potential risks against any benefits before embarking on such strategies.

Keyword bidding involves advertisers paying for their ad content to appear when users search for specific terms on search engines like Google. Some companies use their rivals’ trademarks to attract potential customers to their products or services. Courts have generally deemed this practice unlikely to cause consumer confusion and thus not infringe trademark rights. In some cases, it may even boost brand awareness through association with well-known competitors.

However, the small screens of mobile devices can make it harder to differentiate between organic and paid search results, potentially increasing the risk of legal action by trademark owners. If there is convincing evidence of consumer confusion, the advertiser could be held liable for infringement.

Google’s ad policy does not restrict or investigate the use of trademarked words in keyword bidding, as search engines aim to provide relevant results and maintain competitive auctions among advertisers. But when it comes to using trademarks in ad copy, regional variations and specific conditions apply. Resellers and affiliates must ensure they have the necessary permissions and meet the trademark owner’s requirements.

Trademark owners can request Google to remove infringing ads, though the process can take 6-8 weeks and may require legal advice. Informational sites can use trademarks or brand names when advertising relevant product information without infringing on trademark rights.

Ultimately, the onus is on businesses to protect their trademarks from misuse in digital advertising and keyword bidding. Staying vigilant and monitoring potential infringements can help safeguard a company’s intellectual property and reputation.