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PPC Keywords and Trademark Violations

bertbert subscriber Posts: 12
edited August 2007 in Protecting Your Ideas
Recently, I noticed that many of the search engine companies allow someone to purchase trademarked company names and product names for their PPC ads.  I was wondering, has anyone run into this as being a violation of trademarks?  It seem to me that if search engines and advertisers are making money off of a trademarked name they should have to receive the company owning that trademarks permission and potentially could charge for that use.  Since this is the World Wide Web it seems to me that international law would be interesting here too.  What does everyone think about this?  What do you think about your competitor using your name to get business? bert2007-8-2 11:6:35


  • bertbert subscriber Posts: 12
    Kim, so is using a trademark word as a PPC keyword a violation of trademark law?  I figured that if the search engines allowed it, it must not be but you say you have taken on people that do it.  I agree that the ad should not use other companies marks but what about the keywords you can purchase?  One can purchase a keyword without having it in the ad text.  Isn`t that using your trademarks without ones permission for financial gain, or is it?
  • bertbert subscriber Posts: 12
    Kschill, you will note that the links you gave in your tread say they investigate ad text trademark abuse and they specifically say they do not deal with keyword trademark issues.  If companies are making money from using your trademark as a keyword, how is this any different?
  • bertbert subscriber Posts: 12
    After doing a little research today I discovered that it is illegal to use trademarked words as keywords in some US states but not in others. 
    I guess this is a hot topic right now and is changing as we speak.  From what I understand, if you use someone else`s trademark as a keyword and you reside in a state that says it is illegal, you can be held liable.  I guess if you are not in one of those states, the government has given you the right to use other company`s branding to draw in leads.  If this is true, once again our government cannot make up its mind and the small honest business person loses!
    I hope I am wrong...
  • johujohu subscriber Posts: 2
    I`ve taken on several advertisers who were using my business name as the heading of their google PPC ad.  The ads were always for juice or vitamin companies but said SCRAPBIZ at the top.  ScrapBiz is a registered trademark. 
    They all immediately stopped but several claimed they were only using key words that were suggested to them. 
    It irritates the heck out of me that I have to monitor my business name to that extent.  I also hate that my business gets linked through fake websites about MLM companies.  I am not an MLM and I don`t care to be on these sites but you can`t seem to get yourself removed once you land there. 
    ~KimKim - Fill out the form at https://services.google.com/inquiry/aw_tmcomplaint , and when you get to the section titled "Scope of Complaint - Advertisers Involved", check off "Your complaint involves all advertisers".  Google will then prevent anyone from using your keyword in their ad text, whether entered by them, or automatically through keyword insertion.  You`ll still have to monitor your trademark yourself, as advertisers can submit appeals to the automatic protection (i.e. trademark is designated 2(f) with generic usage), but this will pretty much prevent anyone from using your trademark.
  • bertbert subscriber Posts: 12
    If search engines have the technology to prevent using trademarks in text, why do they allow using them as PPC keywords?  Isn`t that using someone`s trademarked name for profit?  Especially if the company using the keyword has not had permission to do so?bert2007-8-7 10:3:16
  • johujohu subscriber Posts: 2
    Bert - There was a lawsuit about this ( http://news.com.com/Google+wins+in+trad ... with+Geico /2100-1024_3-5491704.html ) where it was ruled that using trademarks to trigger advertising did not constitute a violation of trademark law. 
  • bertbert subscriber Posts: 12
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