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Google has announced changes to the way in which it deals with trademarks and Google AdWords at a press conference this morning.

In a move which brings the UK in line with its US policy, advertisers will now be able to include trademarked words and phrases in their Google ads without the trademark owners permission.

Since a change back in May 2008, advertisers have been able to bid on trademarked phrases on Google, but until this latest change, use of trademarks within ad text has strictly been with the trademark owner's permission only.

The changes, which come into force on September 14, will see Google wash their hands of the trademark argument, and come soon after winning a high profile legal battle against Louis Vuitton in the EU law courts.

Why has Google made this move?

Im sure Google would argue that it is just bringing the UK in line with its US trademark policy and also that it is in the interest of user experience.

One of the stipulations of being able to include trademarks in ad text is that you must link through to a page about the trademark or product. This effectively means that retailers and resellers will be able to use the trademark, but competitors will not.

Google has perhaps decided, through its US experiences and through the Louis Vuitton case, that it is unlikely to be liable for any cases brought, and it removes a large administrative burden. 

At present, if an advertiser wants to be approved for use of a trademark they must provide an email stating approval, which then has to be processed by Google before their account is white-labelled. This process needs to be managed by Google and once removed, this will free up the staff and technology currently involved.

What can we expect on September 14th?

There will probably a little craziness for a short time, but it will soon sort itself out. I imagine the market will still be policed, just not by Google. Retailers and trademark owners will find new ways of limiting unwanted trademark usage via business relationships and affiliate terms. 

It will probably take a little while for them to develop their stance and enforce it, but things will probably calm down within a month or two. 

How should you prepare for this?

As an trademark owner, have a look around your trademarked terms now and have a look who is appearing on them, have they got content about your trademarked phrase or product? If so, they will be able to include the phrase in their ad text.  

Consider what implications this has to you and whether you want to find other ways to enforce a trademark removal. If they are resellers of your product you can still enforce a ban through this relationship, regardless of Google's stance. If they are an affiliate then you can do this through your affiliate marketing terms and conditions.

As an agency, you need to speak to your clients and agree how you are going to deal with this. In many cases it may not actually impact your click through rate (CTR). If you have a clear URL and prominent positions you may see little change.

If you are acting on behalf of the reseller, then make sure you have a whole host of new ads lined up for submission in September, as it could provide a boost to your performance.

Robert Weatherhead

Published 4 August, 2010 by Robert Weatherhead

 

4 more posts from this author

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Jenni

About time, Apple not letting their authorised resellers use any Apple terms in their Google Ad text is ridiculous! How can resellers target their ads effectively when they can't use the obvious 'Apple', 'MacBook Pro', 'iPod' etc.?

over 6 years ago

Rob Mclaughlin

Rob Mclaughlin, VP, Digital Analytics at Barclays

A good move by Google - both mirrors the US rules and normal advertising practices in general.

over 6 years ago

John Readman

John Readman, CEO at Ride25

A great move by Google and one our clients have been hoping for, clients who  retail brands such as Sony, Ferrari or Apple will instantly see an even greater conversion and ROI from their Adwords campaigns. 

over 6 years ago

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Antoine Becaglia

It was meant to happen. The ever changing rules about trademarks were a joke, confusing and a pain to deal with for advertisers, affiliates, brand managers and agencies.

over 6 years ago

Ann Stanley

Ann Stanley, Managing Director and consultant at Anicca DigitalSmall Business Multi-user

The Loosers will be>>>

Many brands will not be happy with competing against resellers - as it will obvously generate more competition and bid inflation!

The Winners will be>>>>

Resellers and ecommerce sites everywhere - freedom to advertise products they sell everyday.

Google - all those extra advertisers and a bidding war for some terms - should see a nice spike in revenue!

over 6 years ago

Adrian Bold

Adrian Bold, Director at Bold Internet Ltd

Seems like a logical move 'though suspect there's going to be some conflicts between trademark owners and advertisers when this does go live.

over 6 years ago

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Jenni

@Ann I'm sure the brands will survive! They can always put a stop to most resellers if they want to, not to mention having bigger budgets for competing (and usually more clicks). Secondly, they aren't really 'losing' when they can set the prices of products anyway.

over 6 years ago

Samantha Noble

Samantha Noble, Marketing Director at Koozai

A very good move by Google in my opinion. Many advertisers selling branded products will now be able to target their ad text more accurately which should deliver more traffic to their website and in turn more conversions. The big brands should be happy rather than disappointed by this change as it will mean more sales for them!

over 6 years ago

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Sandis Viksna

This will be interesting for sure. Also there are some loopholes in some markets. Imagine somebody bidding on a term X, driving traffic to a page on product X and then e.g. selling a different make / cheaper solution.

over 6 years ago

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uk trademark

its rational move as per my opinion so we can target our product in theirs bracket box..

over 6 years ago

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Anonymous

interesting that most of the comments are around 'brands' and 'retailers' rather than consumers - what will they gain?  For isntance; how will it be policed that ad linked pages have to be about the product - search any brand term and you'll unearth the dodgy dealers who'll get away with bad avertising as long as possible before they vary it.

over 6 years ago

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Adrian Yearwood, New Media Manager at Tottenham Hotspur

I have agree with Jenni - its about time.

"One stipulation of being able to include trademarks in ad text is that you must link through to a page about the trademark or product."

This seems fair enough to me.  If a brand want to manage a network of resellers then it should naturally be willing to allow them to use its brand terms. The same goes for other third parties such as affiliates.  Brands wanting their products or services to be available online should embrace the use of their brand by those pushing sales.

over 6 years ago

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