26th August 2005

*updated  –  2-25-05

The text of the article below is no longer accurate, and the rules are changing again on March 1st at Yahoo. Currently, on both Yahoo and Google you CAN bid on competitors trademarked names, but you cannot use the trademarked term in the ad itself.

That is changing now, as of March 1st on Yahoo, but not on Google. Yahoo will prevent bidding on competitors names, while Google will not. For the most current up to date information, go here for Google, and here for Yahoo and MSN 

If you search Google, MSN or Yahoo for the word “Qwest” or for “Verizon”, you’ll only see the sponsored ads for those services in the top and on the right side of the search results. That’s because those names are trademarked. They are not allowed to bid on each others name.

If you search for your actual US Trademark (assuming you own one) do you see your competitors cashing in ? Worse yet, (like one of my own customers), are you actually finding yourself in a Pay Per Click bidding war with others over your own trademarked name? You don’t see Ford ads when you type in Chevrolet, and you shouldn’t see your competitions “sponsored links” when you type in your own name.

A written opinion released Aug. 8 by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia affirms this to be the law, yet the search engines continue to allow these abueses to continue. Why?

The answer is simple… Because nobody tells them! They take millions of advertising orders a day. It’s not their responsibility to research every phrase for a trademark violation, it’s yours.

Fortunately, they’ve made it easy for you to report offenders, and then they had better react quick, or I’ll… um…well… it’s worth a try, anyway.

To report offenders, (and you should, even if you’re not currently bidding) go here for Google, and here for Yahoo and MSN

I thought of this after I got my phone call in the post below…

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