Dealing With Trademark Issues In AdWords

By jameszol
Published on April 17, 2008

Sometimes a competitor will use your brand or trademark in their ad text…and in extreme cases, they will sneak your business name into their url. If you are just starting out, you might think it is a waste of time to go after those that may be ‘infringing’ on your mark because the search volume is low. At the same time, the value of your brand is determined in part by how well it is protected. Let me show you how I usually spend less than 20 to 30 minutes taking care of a client’s brand on the most basic level: Getting advertisers to remove the trademarked name from their ad text and urls.

1. Gather all registered trademark information by going to the USPTO and searching for the mark or simply ask the business owner/in-house marketing team/general counsel for that information. Approx time: 5 minutes.

2. Go to the Google AdWords Trademark complaint form and fill it out – make sure you can complete almost every field…and click the radio button that says the complaint is one that “involves all advertisers”. Approx time: 12 minutes.

3. Skip this step unless you are certain the ad is against Google’s Editorial Guidelines – Log into your Client Center or AdWords account and click on the ‘contact us’ link and follow the process labeled ‘ad approvals’…and you should see a little box under the suggested actions that says “Save Time! Chat live now with an AdWords Specialist”. Simply click to chat and ask them to review the query that displays the advertisement that is against editorial guidelines…most of the time, you chat with a kind representative that immediately flags it for review at the editorial level and the ad should stop displaying within a week or so!

4. If you’re comfortable with this and there aren’t too many advertisers, pick up the phone and have a friendly conversation with your competitor’s AdWords pro – and I’m serious about this – make it friendly. This conversation is not designed to be an accusation or an attack. I often simply say: I work with “sample company” and I am their web marketer…I don’t want to nitpick but a company has to protect their brand, I’m sure you like to protect yours (who doesn’t, right?)…are you near a computer? Please search for ‘sample company’ and you can see an ad for your company that is actually using our name. We already talked with Google about the ad but I thought it would be nice to just have a friendly conversation and tell you that I won’t stick your company name in any of our ads and I would like that same courtesy in return – does that seem fair to you? The ‘infringing’ advertiser will usually agree (I haven’t had a disagreement yet) and change the ad within 24 hours! Approx time: 5 minutes.

That’s the easiest way to cast a wide net and simply wait several weeks for everything to settle. If you have more trouble after that little trademark shake up, keep making calls and if there aren’t any responses, try email…and if that doesn’t work, as a last resort you can craft a cease and desist letter with an attorney. So, this process can take more time if you run into a stubborn or hard to reach advertiser or affiliate.

Good luck protecting your brand/trademark! :)

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One Response to “Dealing With Trademark Issues In AdWords”

  1. [...] A few weeks ago I addressed dealing with trademark issues in AdWords. [...]

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