Google has announced that, from 14 September 2010, it will no longer prevent advertisers from selecting a third party’s trade mark as a keyword. Instead, trade mark owners will be able to complain about the selection of their trade mark by a third party if they feel that it leads to a specific ad text which confuses users about the origin of the advertised goods and services. Google will then conduct a “limited investigation” and if it finds that the keyword in combination with a particular ad text is confusing as to the origin of the advertised goods and services, it will remove the ad. However, it will not prevent the use of trade marks as keywords.
Under this policy Google will permit certain, not confusing, ads and has provided the following non-exhaustive list of examples of permitted ads:
- ads using a trade mark in a descriptive or generic sense
- ads for competing products or services
- ads for informational sites about a product or service corresponding to the trade mark
- ads for resale of the goods or services under a trade mark
- ads for the sale of components, replacement parts, or compatible products corresponding to a trade mark.
This means that keywords which were restricted as a result of a trade mark investigation by Google will no longer be restricted. The change brings the policy for the UK and Ireland in line with the policy for the rest of Europe.
Google has changed its policy in response to the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union this March in Joined Cases C-236/08 Google France, Google Inc. v Louis Vuitton Malletier, C-237/08 Google France v Viaticum Luteciel and C-238/08 Google France v CNRRH Pierre Alexis Thonet Bruno Raboin Tiger, a franchisee of Unicis.
Google has also announced an update of its AdText policy relating to the use of trade marks in ad text for the UK, Ireland and Canada to bring the policy for these countries in line with its policy for the US. This allows advertisers to use
trade marks owned by a third party in their ad text if the trade marks are used legitimately, even if they do not have consent from the trade mark owner to use them, i.e. by a reseller or seller of component, replacement or compatible parts. This policy change will also have effect from 14 September 2010.