Google UK Gives Trademark Triggers The Bullet

Google UK & Ireland have announced a major shake up to their trademark protection policy. Up until now a trademark owner could request that their mark was not used to trigger sponsored adwords when a search was made on Google. This is about to change! As of today Google UK & Ireland will no longer “review a term corresponding to the trademarked term as a keyword trigger”. This apparently brings this wing of Google in line with the US and Canada.

Full details about this policy revision can be found here.

In short it basically says all trademarks can now be used as triggers, but don’t mention the trademark in your advert copy.

So is this a good news or bad news?

It will be interesting to see how big brands react to these developments. Dixons for example are currently adwords free, but under these new terms it must be ok for competitors and affiliates of those competitors to bid on the trademark? Can Dixons therefore stop say Comet from bidding on ‘Dixons’ or even an electrical products affiliate from taking advantage?

For PPC affiliates it does open up a whole new market – and that could be good news for Google, after all could do with the extra cash. For closed groups (which perhaps may restrict one affiliate bidding on the brand name), it changes the whole landscape. Whilst one affiliate may be able to promote Merchant X directly with their brand name, this new decision essentially allows others to use the Merchant X trigger, but to potentially promote Merchant A, B and C!

From a trademark holder’s point of view it’s not the best news of the day and it will be interesting to see who takes advantage of this situation and if has any effect on traffic. It could mean for example we have to start running adword campaigns for the trademark, or countering any competitors by bidding on their names. There’s also the legal question of passing off – and lawyers could well be rubbing their hands about potential fights that may well kick off.

It could get quite ugly!

As of 5th May keywords that were disabled as a result of a trademark complaint and investigation will no longer be restricted in the UK and Ireland. There will no doubt be a lot of discussion, especially at legal level, between now and then about the implications of this policy change.