Google’s Search Trademark Rules, Disputes and Adwords Policy

15 Apr. 2013 - - Total Reads 7,775

Google. It’s one of those brands in the past decade synonymous with goodness and all the internet could be about: positive and well-balanced work life. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin certainly had that intention positioning the company well to do good (not evil) and bring about positive change online in the ’90s. Google Labs was a huge demonstration of this. Rolling out tons of free apps and tools, it was the envy of developers and software firms big and small. Even the Google headquarters, the Googleplex, was a place people and businesses around the globe would idealise as a new benchmark. Every software engineering student I knew at university would talk about wanting to work at Google like it was walking into heaven itself! While I’m certain the culture at camp Google hasn’t changed that much in recent years, it’s policies like, trademark rules, certainly have. Over the past few years Google have made more moves that are redefining the company, in a pretty straightforward way, something every business wants – to grow market share, maximise profits and reduce overheads.

Now, this isn’t an article bagging out the fine, founding virtues of the company. On the contrary, it’s about the commercial reality all businesses face. The ability to remain in the game, at the top or anywhere above the profit line is tied to the free market policy – you can only do so much good, and that good has to be good for the business.

Google’s expansive Labs project, which launched Gmail, Goggles, Maps, Reader, Docs and hundreds of other free and loved tools was closed more than a year ago. Disappointingly, Reader joins the official RIP list of more than 100 tools, following recent spring and winter cleaning press releases from Google. They are clearly starting to focus on platforms that lead to revenue and profit.

Google's Search Trademark Rules, Disputes and Adwords Policy

(Above – live example of Audi advertising on BMW keyword – 15th April 2013 )
Their biggest earner, Google AdWords, recently announced a massive and somewhat surprising change to their best practice. They are allowing advertisers to buy keywords associated with trademarks of other businesses. This means, starting April 23, Sony could start AdWords campaigns on search terms like “Panasonic” or “LG”.  Sure it can be argued it protects the open market for small and medium businesses. But if you are ACME accounting (ACME being your registered trademark), I’m sure you won’t be happy when I search for your company name and one of your competitor’s lands on top of you in the search results. But that’s exactly what Google are advocating with this announcement:

“Our trademark rules are designed to provide greater choice to users via Google ads. This is similar to the way a shopper benefits when they see a variety of brands’ products on a store shelf.

Even if they are looking for a particular brand of running shoe, for example, seeing many different options enables them to compare features, prices, and more to buy the best running shoe for them.

The same idea applies on the web – people searching for one brand of product should be able to easily find information about products from similar brands to make informed decisions.”

While I can see this balances the playing field for companies and simplifies the worldwide trademark policy for Google, it means a massive rise in offensive and defensive advertising requirements for companies, at the same time probably not hurting AdWords’ profits.

Add to this Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) which has changed so considerably in the past 18 months, the funding required for best practice and certainty in results, based on our clients’ spends, is tipping over to be more expensive than advertising. While Google have, in some ways, done the right thing with SEO, tailoring their algorithms to move away from low-cost offshore providers ramping up their search results with fake links and content, they have also aligned search to favour larger organisations, pushing power back towards advertisers including, of course, Adwords itself.

With organic and paid search being a priority for many companies and one of the largest companies on the planet now as focused as you on the bottom line, it is a real wake-up call for online marketing. My advice, after providing expert testimony in a recent online trademark dispute, is unless you’ve got deep pockets and enjoy litigation, start ramping up your digital sales channels to give your business a good spread across advertising platforms. This will not only serve as a great defensive strategy, if calibrated properly to ROI, you should also considerably grow your business.

Michael Simonetti
Posted by:

Post Reads: 7.8K

Share this

Go on, see if you can challenge us on "Google’s Search Trademark Rules, Disputes and Adwords Policy" - Part of our 168 services at AndMine. We are quick to respond but if you want to go direct, test us during office hours.

Add Your Comment

Trusted by

Positive Poster
Arc One
The Fortune Institute
Amino Active
Australian Government
National Relay Services
Plan It Sync It
Rock Pool Group
The Age
CB Richard Ellis
POSTER Magazine
Mamma Lucia
The Burger Cheese
White Suede
ISO Certified
Sports Power
Brisbane Times
ADP Payroll
Instant RockStar
LBG Australia and New Zealand
OMS – Order Management System
QV Skincare
DeeWhy Market
The University Of Melbourne
Bank of Cyprus
Microsoft Certified Azure Fundamentals
Think & Grow Rich Inc
Bulk Nutrients
CSquared Executive
SwinBurne University of Technology
Parker Lane
Passage Foods
Australian Anthill
Catholic Insurance
Tomorrow Stars Basketball
Palace Cinemas
Melrose MCT
Madman Entertainment
Atlantic Group of Companies
Federation University Australia
Matchbox Homewares
Magento Solution Specialist
Marshall White
Macmillan Publishing
Federation Square
Australian Physiotherapy Association
National Museum of Australia
Fresh Cheese Company
High Street Armadale
Wild Rhino Shoes
Victorian Government
Buy Aussie Now
Street Kitchen
Adobe Professional
Dial Before You Dig
Heat Holders
Associated Press
Tek Ocean
Grays Ecommerce
Bintani Australia
DUSA, Deakin University Student Association
21st Century Australia Party
Carlton Football Club
Melbourne Heart
Boston Consulting Group
Castran Gilbert
Vendor Advocacy Australia
Acquia Certified Site Builder Drupal
Sunday Creek
James Buyer Advocates
Loan Market
McArthur Skincare
CAN- Common Wealth Bank
Smart Company
Engine Swim
Melbourne Central
Ubertas Group
Switzer Media+Publishing
Dinosaur Designs
Green St Juice CO
Etihad Stadium
Aqium Gel
The Canberra Times
Engineers Without Borders
Toy World
Peter Mac
Viktoria & Woods
Florsheim Shoes
Unsw Australia
Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre – MSAC
Grow Your Business
Royal Freemasons
Australian Organic Food CO
Ego Pharmaceuticals
Melrose Health
Moov Head Lice
Mecca Brands
Arthur Galan
NMI Insurance
Passage To India
131 Pizza
Cell Therapies
Bondi Sands
SunSense Digital Agency
Celebrate Health
Focus On Furniture
Craft CMS
Natralus Australia
One Shift
RMIT University
Oakdale Meat Co
Maximising First Impressions With Design – Oakdale Meat
Cronos Australia
GPT Group
Watches of Switzerland
Fairfax Media
SMH – The Sydney Morning Herald
Van Egmond Group
Hairhouse Warehouse


I wanted to thank you and your teams for the responsiveness and quality of the work you have done for the french version of the site. We had a very good feedback on the quality of the site from our French network. Vincent Berlinet

More Testimonials