Google Trademark Process, Shifting Burden to Brand Owners


googlesucks_small.jpgADOTAS — Last week, Google announced it would allow limited use of trademarks in the text of some search ads, even if the trademark owner objects.

Here’s a brief rundown of what the decision means for search marketers.

What is the change?

· The prior process allowed brand owners to specify to Google which retailers or affiliates were able to reference their trademarked brand name in their ad text. Now, any advertiser who sells a brand on its website can use that brand name in the text of their Google ads.

What does it mean to brand owners?

· Brand owners will need to be extra vigilant when it comes to policing and restricting the use of their trademarked terms by unauthorized websites – or risk having their paid search advertising costs driven up.

However, the trademark protection process will become more streamlined, since brand owners do not need to maintain and communicate a “white-list” of companies allowed to use their brand name to Google. Brand owners that have been depending exclusively on Google to enforce their trademarks will be most impacted by this change.

What does it mean to retailers and affiliates?

· Authorized retailers and affiliates can use the same powerful ad text they’ve used all along, but now they don’t have to go through the cumbersome white-listing process with the brand owner to receive authorization from Google to do so.

The new trademark rule for ad text is more efficient, and will allow authorized resellers and affiliates to spend less time managing trademark usage and more time optimizing their SEM programs for maximum effectiveness. What’s more, the change could save affiliates and authorized resellers money, as they won’t have to bid on expensive brand keywords, but can instead use the trademarked brand in the ad text.

Why does it matter?

· Using brand terms in targeting, i.e. the keywords themselves, has been widely available to affiliates and authorized resellers for a long time – but, until now, they have not been able to use trademarked brand names in the ad text.

When brands are in your ad text, visitors are more likely to click. Ads with brand names in the ad text cost less than those with brand keywords in the headline, and get more traffic than text with no brand names in it. That means affiliates and authorized resellers can compete more effectively with the brand owner’s own ads.

For up-to-date developments on the Google trademark change ramifications, please follow us on twitter/marinsoftware.


  1. This raises once again the frequently heard question of “who really owns a brand anyway?”. Increasingly it’s not the company that holds the copyright, but the customer, the consumer, and now their reseller partners…


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