Friday, January 16, 2004

Resellers online , trademarks & Google

I-Search Digest
Understanding Internet Search Technology
2004-01-15| Issue #582
MarketingWonk: Archives (online marketing and advertising news sorted by date and category)

Google has informed me that the trademark owner has complained about
the improper use of their trademark in our listing:

Campaign: 'New Drivewerks Campaign,' Ad Group: 'Ad Group 17'

KEYWORD(S): LifeLine, LifeLine Safety Kits, LifeLine Safety Travel
Kits, Lifeline First Aide Kits

Action taken: Disapproved
Issue(s): Keyword trademark term

-> Keywords: We have disapproved the trademark term "Lifeline" and/or
variations of this keyword in your Google AdWords campaign.

This indeed opens up a huge can of worms. Suppose that you sell
automotive parts for Fords. If you can't use the name "Ford" in the search
listing, then the applicability of your paid-search listings is nearly
worthless. It would appear that it would be only a matter of time
before Google starts receiving hundreds of letters from trademark owners who
want AdWords listings pulled from the Queue (let's eventually include
Overture in there as well). If this continues, it will indeed have a
profound impact on paid search results. For example, if you typed in
"Cisco Routers" into Google, 100% of the AdWords listed use the
trademarked name "Cisco."

Trouble is brewing, any comments anyone? I'm going to have my SEO firm
( look into alternative ways around this problem...

One question becomes, is your issue with Google or with the trademark holder? In particular, there is a big problem of trademark-holder-reseller relations that may speak to an unhealthy relationship there more than it does to any issue with Google and how they handle issues (or to the law, for that matter). Interestingly, though, such issues have been around for quite awhile in SEM even where one is not paying for keywords. There is competition amongst, for example, whether a weight-loss-company franchisee will get traffic to their site on certain keywords ("Jenny Craig South Florida") or whether the parent company takes a stand and begins making all sorts of demands of its franchisees regarding their marketing methods (including content, page titles, meta tags, etc.). It's a messy business and very often not somethng Google is in a position to solve. To their credit, in asking for a ruling on the American Blind case, Google seems to have taken the initiative in wanting to establish some legal principles where there currently are few precedents. You're quite right, though, a seller of Ford parts needs the leeway to be able to advertise to buyers of these, and surely, it should be neither Ford's nor Google's decision whether they're allowed to do this. Google would probably rather allow it, but they need the sanction of a court ruling or two, presumably, to give them the confidence to resist large trademark holders' complaints. In your case, unfortunately it seems that you might have to actually pursue legal action to be reinstated on those terms. It would not be a terrible idea to contact Google directly first to state your case,

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