Bidding On Trademarks As Adwords – Legitimate Tactic Or Illegal Infringement?

So, is bidding on trademarks as Adwords legitimate tactic or illegal infringement?

It is well worth a read if only to see how the courts look at adwords, etc.

You can read it here.

The main message is that bidding on someone else’s trademark whilst not an infringement in itself is a dangerous and potentially expensive thing to do.

It can be done but only if there is no prospect that a reasonably informed and alert person would realise that they are not getting what they searched for if they click on your ad.

In many cases that may be obvious but where as with INTERFLORA there is a network of independents which all trade separately and also under a joint name, the risk of confusion is going to be immense.

As a business owner you need to keep an eye open on what your Web optimisation firm/marketing consultant are doing!

M&S were held to have infringed INTERFLORA’s trademark because people typing ‘interflora’ into Google’s search engine were found to have clicked on M&S’s advertisement, thinking they were part of INTERFLORA.

An interesting thing to note is how the information Google provides to advertisers about the adwords service was used to show the extent of confusion and I suspect in due course it (along with other information about who visited which sites and where they went afterwards) will be used as part of the evidence to establish the extent of loss suffered – numbers of sales, revenue which resulted, etc.

I suspect that approach will now become standard, given that the courts (quite rightly in my view) came down hard on the previous practice of adducing the results of customer surveys or questionnaires as evidence of confusion.

The decision itself will no doubt be appealed in due course…

If you want to discuss this further, please contact Ian Pinder by email or on 01227 813400.