Policy shift allows advertisers to use others' trademarks under some conditions, even when the owners object to that use.
Google will begin allowing advertisers in the United States to use trademarked terms in their advertisements -- including ones they don't own -- a move designed to revive its sagging ad revenue but likely to irk brands that are already chafing at Google's fast-and-loose policy toward trademark protection.
Google compared its old policy of not allowing trademarked terms in ads to Sunday circulars that only advertise "snacks for sale" or "shoes available," in a blog post.
"The ads wouldn't be useful since you wouldn't know what products are actually being offered," Dan Friedman of Inside Adwords wrote. "For many categories of advertisers, this is the problem they have faced on Google for some time."
"Under certain criteria, you can use trademark terms in your ad text in the U.S. even if you don't own that trademark or have explicit approval from the trademark owner to use it. This change will help you to create more narrowly targeted ad text that highlights your specific inventory," he continued.
Those criteria include referring to the trademarked terms in "a descriptive or generic way," and the advertiser must either be re-selling, facilitating the sale of or offering information about the trademark holder's products or components of those products. Google says it will perform limited investigations into complaints about its clients violating those rules.
The new rules are not likely to improve Google's standing among companies who complain that the search giant impinges their trademarks by letting competitors buy the rights to their brand names.
Earlier this week, Firepond, a Texas software company, filed a class-action suit against Google claiming trademark infringement because consumers searching for "Firepond" were clicking on the sponsored links of their competitors.
On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!
Want to learn more? Join us at ClickZ Live San Francisco, Aug 10-12!
Educating marketers for over 15 years, ClickZ Live brings together industry thought leaders from the largest brands and agencies to deliver the most advanced, educational digital marketing agenda. Register today and save $500!
Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.
Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.
June 10, 2015
12:00pm ET/9:00am PT