Yahoo just announced that they will no longer allow PPC advertisers to advertise or bid on trademark terms.

Could this be a trend of things to come from the other major search players?

The new MSN adCenter (still in beta) states that you are not allowed to infringe on trademarks within its editorial guidelines (see policy below).

However, Google still takes a firm stance on allowing advertisers to bid on trademarked search terms as long as the trademarked term is not used in the advertiser’s ad text.

Numbers to consider

After click fraud, trademark infringement is the second biggest concern in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Of the total number of searches online, 20% are brand searches. That is, company-owned trademarks such as “Pontiac” account for 20% of all search traffic. While 1 in 5 searches for trademark terms may seem high, the majority of conversions do not originate from trademark terms. A study by comScore and Yahoo Search Marketing (Overture) found that most shoppers do not search by manufacturer or product name. Rather, buyers use broad search terms that do not include a manufacturer’s name. Broad search terms account for 70% of total searches and 60% of total conversions.

Search Engine Policy on PPC Trademark Offers

Yahoo on trademarks:

“On March 1, 2006, Yahoo! Search Marketing will change its editorial

guidelines on the use of keywords that contain trademarks.

Previously, we enabled competitive advertising by allowing advertisers to

to bid on third-party trademarks if those advertisers offered detailed information

comparative information about the products of the trademark owners or

services compared to competitive products and services

that were offered or promoted on the advertisers’ site.

To provide quality user experiences more easily when

users search for terms that are trademarks, Yahoo! Search Marketing

you have determined that we will no longer allow bidding on keywords

containing competitive trademarks “.

MSN AdCenter on Trademarks

“Microsoft requires that all advertisers agree that they will not bid on keywords, or use in the text of their ads, any words whose use would infringe the trademark of a third party or would be illegal or would violate the rights of a third party.”

Google AdWords on Trademarks:

“Google takes reports of trademark infringement very seriously and, as a courtesy, we are happy to investigate issues raised by trademark owners. Additionally, our Terms and Conditions with Advertisers prohibit intellectual property infringement by advertisers and make it clear that advertisers are responsible for the keywords they choose to generate ads and the text they choose to use in those ads. “

Solution or more problems

With all engines moving towards a TM standard, it would have many benefits for both advertisers and search engines. This standard would be good for marketers who would have to be more creative in creating their copy, creating a higher demand for qualified marketers, which would translate to higher fees. The search engines hosting the ads would maintain revenue levels, but online PR firms could lose as they would not be required to monitor their trademarked clients’ search engines. Lastly, the brand owner will remain protected and the user experience will not be affected.

Case study:

I am currently working with an AdWords client in a circumstance where their competitors are bidding on their trademarked search terms. Aside from the constant monitoring and reporting of trademark infringements used in the ads themselves, the ad spend to secure the top positions for your ads has skyrocketed from a starting price of $ 2.00 per click to $ 15.00 per click. $ 00 per click. Also, the monthly expense has increased from $ 1,200 to almost $ 30,000.

I have to go back to my client with an estimated budget of $ 500,000 for the remainder of this year to control space for his own trademark term. I’m reluctant to do that as it doesn’t make sense with Yahoo’s announcement of their new trademark policy. Given the level of aggression from competitors and the exorbitant cost now borne by my client, there is only one solution and that is to prevent all advertisers from bidding on the terms. In my opinion, it is simply not correct that a business owner has to spend more than $ 500,000 to buy his own brand term that has already cost him millions of dollars to build. This is more than $ 500,000 in revenue for Google, which is generated through a policy that goes beyond elementary business terms. Yahoo and MSN have recognized the injustice of this policy and have taken steps to change it.

If we are unable to address this policy on a case-by-case basis, I have no alternative but to advise my client that we cannot help them further and that their only option is to take legal action against Google.

Google also advises that you discuss the matter with individual advertisers, which in many cases is impossible with private registries and foreign companies. You could dramatically increase your high costs by having to send waivers to all violators. Many will ignore you.

The classic bait and switch doesn’t seem to apply to the internet. Many companies agree that their terms be bought to compare prices and resellers. The solution here is for those companies to grant Google permission to allow their resellers to buy the name. With the strength and sophistication of Google technology, how difficult can this be? I doubt it is more cumbersome than filtering the search results for China.

Your defense against trademark infringement

Website companies where the majority of their income is generated through online sales rely heavily on search engines to drive traffic to their website. To defend yourself against trademark infringement, you will need to conduct search audits at least once a month. You not only need to review organic search results, but also paid search results or contextual PPC ads. You should review the top 30 results of the search lists.

To get organic search engine results, you need to look at both the questionable result and the site that is displayed in the result. When examining a potential infringer’s site, don’t just look at the content visible on the site; Also check the code to discover hidden text, image alt tags, and keyword meta tags that may include your trademark names.

Then document your findings. For search engine results and PPC results, please use a “screenshot” of the page showing the trademark infringement. To flag violations that are visible on a website, save the entire page code as a .txt file.

What if you see a violation in the organic search results, but when you click the page, there is no violation? They may be using a cover page that includes your trademark. To verify this, you will need to view the search engine cached page in the archive. Be sure to save a copy of this code as well.

You will need to properly document your findings by dating the violation, as well as full contact information for the site owner. Use to get whois information for the site. Once you have all of this documented, you will need to submit your findings to the appropriate search engine.

You may also want to take the legal route, in which case you should keep a record of all your documentation to present to your legal advisor.

The best way to collect evidence is to hire a third party to collect evidence against the infringer of your trademark or copyrighted material. Recently, at Search Engine Strategies in New York City during February 2006, Deborah Wilcox, a partner at Baker & Hostetler LLP who specializes in the areas of copyright and trademark law, said: “Use a third party to make prints and audit the search results. case goes to court, you will need hard evidence for the judge. “

Contact the search engines

You can also contact the search engines directly if you think an advertiser is infringing on your trademark. Contact information for the relevant search engine is listed below.


Google Corporation.

Attn: Google AdWords, Trademark Complaints

2400 Bayshore Parkway

Mountain View, CA 94043

Yahoo! Search Marketing

Formerly: Overture Services, Inc.

Attn: Business & Legal Affairs – Trademarks

74 N. Pasadena Ave., 3rd floor

Pasadena, California 91103

Fax: 626685-5601

Microsoft Corporation

Attn: MSN Search Trademark Concerns

One Microsoft Way

Redmond, WA 98052


Trademark infringement remedies

International Trademark Association

American Center for Patent and Trademark Law

Internet patents, copyrights, trademarks and legal issues

Trademarks on the Internet

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