Google updates its US ad text trademark policy

On Friday 15 May Google announced a change to its US ad text trademark policy. In effect, this new policy will allow advertisers to use trademarks in ad copy and will take effect from the 15 June.

According to Google the change will benefit both users and advertisers by reducing the number of generic ads on their US network. Google state that advertisers will be able to produce more targeted ads that will offer users more relevant information whilst respecting the interests of trademark owners.

Offering users more relevant information is all well and good but will trademarks really be safe in the hands of advertisers? After the initial move on the trademark policy back in May 2008, the evidence suggests that many large brands saw their competitors taking advantage of the relaxed policy - almost abusing the use of other brands in some cases. - a significant loss in brand visibility and ownership.

The problem is that advertisers will do all they can to be visible and if that means abusing the power that Google has bestowed upon them, then so be it. I predict that advertisers will begin using competitor brand names negatively in their ad copy as already seen. Furthermore, Google is not well enough regulated to stop this from happening and therefore allowing others to incorporate competitor brands into their ad copy will in fact become confusing and frustrating for the consumer.

One other major and possibly legal problem with this new policy involves counterfeiters, who will be able to pose as the genuine product in their ads. This isn't good for consumers and most definitely harmful to brands. At present Google struggles to control the counterfeiters even without the use of the brand name in the ad copy.

I expect this change to be rolled out to the UK before long, so we too will be facing the implications of this latest adjustment. At this stage our advice would be to get some brand protection/monitoring in place so when the trademark policy does change, you know exactly who is targeting you and can apply the appropriate strategy.

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