Brand owners have long struggled to protect their brands online.
First there came domain name pirates, then online parodies through
You Tube and the like, social media bandits and now the ongoing
battle against the misuse of brands as adwords. There is a means by
which brand owners can exclude their registered trade mark from use
as a Google adword by unauthorised users with the 'Google
Adwords trademarks complaint form'.
Adwords are a key source of revenue for internet search engines.
They allow for advertisers to place their advertisements along side
the search results which they consider are most likely to draw
customers to their own products or services. Many brand owners find
their competitors purchasing their brands as adwords. This can
allows competitors to place their advertisement at the top of the
internet search results for another brand, thereby potentially
diverting internet traffic away from the real brand owner.
This issue has been dealt with on several occasions through the
Courts across many of our key trading jurisdictions, including
Europe and the United States. The fact that the issue has caused so
much litigation demonstrates it is an area of concern. Most
recently in Australia the ACCC succeeded in its Federal Court
appeal against Google, claiming its advertisements were misleading
and deceptive. The Court found Google had engaged in misleading and
deceptive conduct by showing advertisements referring to
competitors, where those competitors have purchased the keywords of
their rivals, on the Google search engine results pages. The Court
ordered Google to
introduce a consumer law compliance program as part of its
Regardless of this positive legal outcome, for those wanting to
prevent misuse of their brands, these issues will continue to grow
as all aspects of daily life and commerce accelerate into the
online sphere. As Court actions can be time consuming, costly,
uncertain, and by their very nature retroactive, it pays for brand
owners to be vigilant to protect their own rights.
Opting out of Google adwords
What many brand owners don't know is that there is a very
simple and practical tool that can be utilised to prevent adword
misuse. Through Google's 'AdWords trademark complaint'
process brand owners can quickly and easily exclude their brands
from the possibility of being purchased as a Google adword by their
Google has a simple online process for opting out of its adwords
system. The Google 'AdWords trademark complaints' form
allows for 2 types of complaints. The first is a complaint against
all users (which would remove your registered mark from use by any
one not specifically authorised). The second is a complaint against
a specific user. To opt your brand out of the adwords system, the
process simply requires entering your own Google customer
identification together with your registered trade mark details
into an online form and then selecting the option to exclude your
trade mark from use by all advertisers, rather then submitting a
complaint against a particular advertiser. It is important to note
that this complaint system can relate to either keywords or
advertisement text within the Australian region.
When completing the form, it is important to include your own
Google identification details so that you are not excluded from
using your own brand as an adword, and to also list any authorised
You do need a trade mark registration to utilise the system. A
trade mark registration is the first line of defence for any brand
and so any brands which are important enough to prevent misuse
should be registered in any event.
When the alternative to preventing misuse of your brand as an
adword is a line of potentially endless cease and desist letters,
or litigation through the Courts, the benefits are obvious. This is
a tool brand owners should be utilising to its full extent. If you
would like any further information, contact any member of our IP
team or view the
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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