Google, trademarks and everything (well, almost)

Competitors muscling in on your trademark keywords can be a nuisance, to say the least. But there is a way around the mess. CHRIS THOMAS

Chris Thomas

By Chris Thomas

Something that comes up again and again is the issue of trademark protection and Google AdWords. If someone is bidding on your brand or trademarked product name, it’s a real nuisance because competitors are leveraging search traffic intended for you.

Google’s quality score can make life expensive for people who bid on your trademark, but it doesn’t always stop competitors who have deep pockets.

Luckily, Google has a system where you can apply to have AdWords removed from the search results when they’re triggered by trademarked keywords.

So what are the steps to remove competitors ads when someone does a search on your trademark?

Obviously the very first thing to do is make sure you have a registered trademark! If you don’t, you can engage a trademark lawyer to act on your behalf (recommended) or if you’re feeling adventurous, go down the DIY path and head over to IP Australia.

If your trademark application is “accepted”, you’ll pay a fee (from memory, around $160 to start the process and another $250 to finish it, but don’t quote me) and be assigned a trademark number.

Now that you’re armed with your new, shiny trademark, the next step is to lodge it with Google. You’ll find more information from Google’s help section here. There’s also some good local (Australian) information from Google here.

Don’t be confused by Google’s trademark infringement process; they make out that you have to print and fill out a form before sending it off in the mail. There’s actually an online form which makes the process a lot quicker and a lot less painful!

Luckily, here in Australia Google is quite strict about trademark infringement in relation to keywords and Google ads. If you’re in the UK, Ireland, Canada or the US, Google is no longer offering protection against advertisers who use trademarks in keyword lists to trigger a Google AdWord. However, they will disapprove an ad with a trademark in the Google ad itself. I’m not sure how long Google will maintain the status quo locally.

When you fill out the form, make sure you don’t kill off your business partner’s Google ads (if you have them). Let’s say you are a large retailer and you have retail agreements with other e-commerce websites who are currently allowed to use your trademark in their Google ads and keyword lists. You will need to exempt them during the Google trademark complaint process so their Google ads still appear. Remember, the idea is to remove competitors, not your authorised partners.

Once you’ve lodged the form, the final step is patience. You’ll need to wait a few months for Google to act, but don’t hold your breath about notification – you’ll turn an odd shade of blue very quickly. You just have to wake up each day, do a search on your trademark and wait for the magic to happen.

Then just as you’re losing all hope that it will ever happen, you’ll suddenly find your Google ad is the only one on the page! It’s a long wait, but it is a “hallelujah moment” and it will certainly help your online sales!

Go forth.


Chris Thomas heads Reseo a search engine optimisation company which specialises in setting up and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns, Affiliate Programs and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.

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