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Thread: using your competition company names for Google Adwords

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    Default using your competition company names for Google Adwords

    I heard a new idea for Adwords which is atleast interesting to me.

    Use your competition for your Adwords...

    they spend all the money to advertise in magazines, radio, tv....you have your company ad next to theirs in the adwords column for .50 cents.

    I have a green home builder who cant afford much in advertising right now who is using this technique against the large 'green' builders....he said it is working for them....its generating the most hits right now.

    any thoughts? im considering it as a test for a month

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    I can see the benefit that such an idea may provide when you are doing your advertising.

    I have really two thoughts on the idea though. At best it is helping to build the brand name for your competitors. If your business is called GreenBuild and your competitor is called EnviroBuild, you advertise with Envirobuild in your ad. When people get to your website they may have a look and then look for how to contact you. When they call and you answer with Greenbuild. It can be confusing, and create a misconception. Which leads to the second idea.

    Worst case scenario you will be misleading people, infringing on trademarks. While it may work for you to some extent, sooner or later you will start to get Cease and Desist Letters from your competitors, and there is potential that you will end up annoying customers, who may have given you a fair go to start with, but may figure they have been tricked into your site rather then the company they were actually looking for.

    What is comes down to is there is nothing worse than annoying customers for what you see as a easy way to capture your competitors market. Use the method if you wish, but be very aware that there could be consequences, and be prepared to accept those consequences, should anything go wrong.
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    It's done all the time. Naturally companies complain about it all the time too, but at the moment Google still allows it and it's a tactic many employ.

    One thing to consider though is that it's probably going to anger your competition and who knows how they'll react. I'm not saying you shouldn't bid on their names, but just keep in mind their reaction. Also while you can bid on their name, I'm don't believe you can use their name in their ad. You might be opening yourself up to legal issues if you do and Google probably won't approve the ad in the first place. If you use dynamic keyword insertion on ads this is one time you won't want to use it.

    Bid on the their name, but keep all those brand related keywords in a separate ad group with an ad that makes it clear you aren't that other company.
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    It is a good angle to use. Also use their phone number, physical address, URL, and just about anything else related. But like vangogh said, be sure you don't confuse the searcher into thinking you represent the other company.

  5. #5

    Default Trademarks in Google AdWords

    The advertising ploy is not new and it may not be safe. Until 2004, Google would not let advertisers buy keywords which were trademarks that the advertiser did not own. Google switched gears in 2004 and started allowing trademarks to be used as keywords by anyone.

    Google was sued immediately. Although Google lost a few cases in Europe, it was initially successful in the United States. Huggy, of course, could care less about Italian or French law, so no problem.

    Until this year. In Rescuecom Corp. v. Google, Inc., 562 F.3d 123 (2nd Cir. 2009) the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (covering NY, CT and VT) overruled the District Court's dismissal of Rescuecom's claims and held that Google's practice is an actionable claim under U.S. trademark law.

    The jury is still out, so to speak, because the Second Circuit remanded the case back to the District Court to apply the law to the specific facts of that case. Also, the ruling of the Second Circuit is not binding on federal District Courts outside NY, VT and CT (though it is a highly respected court and its analysis carries much weight with other Federal court). Other courts may still reach a different conclusion.

    Finally, the decision in Rescuecom Corp. v. Google, Inc. only applies to federally registered trademarks. Trademarks also have common law protection and there is no telling how state courts would rule in any particular state.

    In the end, if Google is liable for selling the keywords to you, there is little reason to think that you are not also infringing the owner's trademark rights when you use the trademark to trigger your AdWords ads.

    Stay tuned.

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    Thanks for the info David. So far it seems like Google is within the law here in the States, but I know many companies don't like their policy on this and some are taking them to court over the matter.

    From my own point of view I can see a big distinction between bidding on another companies name and using their name in your ad. I don't see where bidding on their name should be an issue. It's the misrepresenting yourself as your competitor that's an issue. Just my own feelings of course, and not anything legal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by vangogh View Post
    Thanks for the info David. So far it seems like Google is within the law here in the States ...
    Not if you live in New York, Connecticut or Vermont, it seems.

    Quote Originally Posted by vangogh View Post
    From my own point of view I can see a big distinction between bidding on another companies name and using their name in your ad. I don't see where bidding on their name should be an issue. It's the misrepresenting yourself as your competitor that's an issue. Just my own feelings of course, and not anything legal.
    That is Google's position and I tend to agree. However, the owners of the trademarks do make some good arguments as well.

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    I didn't realize about those states. Everything I'd seen about this so far had indicated the Google policy was within the law. Do you know then if they don't allow you to bid on competitor brand names in those states?

    It's easy to understand why trademark owners wouldn't like this and I'm sure they can make some good arguments. I've been trying to think of a non-AdWords analogy where something like this happens. This isn't quite the same, but you often see commercials on tv where one company does compare itself directly to another company's products. You see it all the time in commercials for cars. It's not quite the same thing, but I assume it's legal since you see it all the time.

    With the bidding it seems fine to me as long as you are clear you aren't the same company. Imagine someone types Pepsi into a search engine and sees an ad for Coke. If the person specifically wanted a Pepsi they aren't clicking the Coke ad. If they just wanted a soda/pop/(fill in whatever you call it in your part of the world) that person will click the Coke ad. That doesn't come across to me as something that should violate any laws. Now if the Coke ad used the word Pepsi and gave the impression they were Pepsi even to a very small degree then I think that does cross a line.

    Again just my opinion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by vangogh View Post
    I didn't realize about those states. Everything I'd seen about this so far had indicated the Google policy was within the law. Do you know then if they don't allow you to bid on competitor brand names in those states?
    This is only one case (even if it is by a well respected federal Court of Appeals), and the case has been sent back to the District Court for more proceedings, so while Google has lost the battle, the war rages on.

    I don't know whether Google has changed its policy in the three states in the Second Circuit, but I suspect that at this stage it has not. Just because the claims of Rescuecom survived dismissal does not mean that they will win the case based on their specific facts.

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    They probably haven't changed any policies for now and will wait till they have to. I'm sure they make good money on brand name bids and would prefer to allow them as long as they can.

    If you see anything more about the one case could you post something here. I know I'd be interested in the ruling. I imagine if Google changes their policy I'll see a mention of it in my feedreader and I'll post that as well.
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