Trademark use and misuse. If you are lucky enough to have a brand worth protecting, competitors are going to (or attempt to) use your trademarks in their Google Ads.
So if it is inevitable, why bother trying to defend against Google AdWords trademark infringement? There are several benefits to protecting your trademarks on Google.
4 Benefits of Protecting Your Trademarks on Google
More control over brand image
Lower campaign costs
Higher click-through rate
The search landscape is competitive and brand bidding and trademark violations are part of that. While it may not seem "fair", it's better to be proactive in protecting your brand rather than just hoping it will stop.
Google’s Role in Trademark Policy Enforcement
If you think Google will automatically take down ads that infringe on Google’s trademark policy, think again. As the brand-holder, it’s your responsibility to understand Google trademark policies and to submit the Google infringement form to have an infringing ad removed. As stated in Google’s trademark policy, "Google’s trademark policies are forced when a trademark owner submits a valid trademark complaint to Google”.
Google Trademark Submissions Process
While it’s a simple process to understand, trademark infringement protection requires considerable skill to actually catch advertisers bidding on your brand, prove that it’s happening, and then deal with the brand bidders appropriately. The response to trademark infringement can take several forms— from fighting back with your own brand bidding to getting Google to remove the ad (if it breaks their rules), to legal action.
How do you go about it? There are six essential steps to protecting your trademarks on Google.
6 steps to protecting your trademarks on Google
Understand Google’s Trademark Policies
Make a list of your trademarks
Set-up Trademark Monitoring
Track & Detect Trademark Infringements
Let’s break down each of these steps.
Understanding Google’s Trademark Policies
As a brand holder, you should become a Google trademark specialist. You should learn Google’s trademark policies forward and back.
Some highlights from Google’s trademark policies:
Google does not investigate or restrict trademarks as keywords. Because of this, it is important to implement your own brand bidding strategy.
Google does not investigate or restrict the use of trademarks in display URLs.
Trademarks in ad text: Google may restrict the use of trademarks in ad text IF trademark owner submits a valid complaint.
Resellers may use trademarks in ad text if their landing page is primarily dedicated to selling the products or services corresponding to the trademark.
Not allowed under the Reseller and informational site trademark policy are ads referring to the trademark for competitive purposes, ads with landing pages that require extensive information before displaying commercial information, and ads that are unclear as to whether the advertiser is a reseller or informational site.
Advertisers may use a trademark in ad text if authorized by the trademark owner
Advertisers can use a trademark term descriptively in ad text if it is used in its ordinary meaning rather than in reference to the trademark.
Google’s Trademarks policy only applies to trademarks in Google Ads text ads on the Search Network. However, Google may remove specific ads on the Google Network in response to trademark owner complaints.
Make a list of your trademarks and variations
Be sure to write a list of your trademarks and obvious brand-plus derivatives and misspellings. This will help you monitor any infringements and submit complaints to Google. Ensure that your trademark is strong and not merely descriptive. The stronger your trademark, the more defensible your argument will be if someone violates your trademark. You will have a harder time convincing Google to remove trademark infringements if your mark is weak, a common search phrase, or likely to come up for anyone who sells a product similar to yours.
Set-up Trademark Monitoring
You can automate this process by adding your trademark, brand and product keywords into The Search Monitor tool and creating alerts for when violations appear. All you have to do is complete our Trademark Submission form one time. You will need your trademark as well as your trademark registration number.
Track & Detect Trademark Infringement
The Search Monitor’s advanced detection technology will scan search engine ads to identify violations at a national and geo-targeted level. When a violation is detected, you’ll get a screenshot of the search result, along with the location, time and date of the search. This provides the necessary evidence to take down these ads.
Once a violating ad has been found, it has to be submitted to Google via their trademark complaint form. To do this manually is a near impossible, not to mention tedious, undertaking. To truly catch trademark bidding requires automation. Luckily, when violations are found, The Search Monitor automatically sends any complaint to the engine on your behalf.
Being able to track trademark violations, Google trademark submissions, and the status of take-downs is essential. The Search Monitor’s submissions dashboard gives you complete transparency into all submissions, status updates, and take-down trends.
Knowledge is Power
To help you protect your valuable trademarks from Google trademark infringement, knowledge is power. Knowledge of Google’s trademark policies and how to have violating ads removed will serve you well in preventing the unauthorized use of your trademarks on Google.
For more on preventing trademark infringement and enforcing Google’s trademark policies, visit www.thesearchmonitor.com.