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 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 violations are 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, most 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. In contrast, 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 allowed competitive advertising by allowing advertisers to
to bid on third-party trademarks if those advertisers offered detailed information
comparative information on the products of the trademark owners or
services compared to competitive products and services
that were offered or promoted on the advertisers’ site.
To deliver 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 any words in their ad text the use of which would infringe a third party’s trademark or be illegal or 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 into higher fees. The search engines hosting the ads would maintain revenue levels, but online PR firms stand to lose as they would not be required to monitor the search engines of their trademarked clients. Lastly, the brand owner will continue to be protected and the user experience will not be affected.
I am currently working with an AdWords customer in a circumstance where their competitors are bidding on their trademarked search terms. Aside from the constant monitoring and reporting of trademark infringements being used in the ads themselves, the ad spend to secure top positions for your ads has skyrocketed from $ 2.00 per initial click to $ 15.00 per click. Additionally, 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 about 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 for a business owner to have to spend more than $ 500,000 to purchase his own branded 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 cannot address this policy on a case-by-case basis, then I have no alternative but to advise my client that we cannot help him further and that his 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 if you had to send cease-desists 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 are bought for price comparison and reseller. 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’s 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 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 have to look at both the questionable result and the site that is displayed in the result. When examining the 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 your trademark names may include.
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 organic search results, but when you click on the page, there is no violation? They may be using a hidden 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 http://www.dnsstuff.com 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 impressions 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 search engines directly if you think an advertiser is infringing on your trademark. Contact information for the relevant search engine is listed below.
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
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