Google trademark decision: 1 month on


The Google trademark update has been in place since the 5 May 2008. A month on I thought it would be useful to review the effects of the change. Firstly I’ll take a look at paid search (PPC) activity on Google Adwords and how it’s affected my clients.

Here’s a summary my observations:

  • As predicted, competitors are now bidding on our clients’ trademarks.
  • Our clients’ average cost per click (CPC) has been pushed up by 20-25%.
  • The increase in costs was seen from the 6 May (the day after the trademarks were changed and the day after the UK bank holiday).
  • The use of trademarks in competitor adverts has been relatively easy to monitor but difficult to stop (only Google can stop advertisers from using trademarks).
  • The Google Adwords editorial team have been overwhelmed by the number of advert review requests – we have seen significant delays in competitor ads being removed.
  • Sales via the affiliate channel have increased. Sales have been migrating from paid search to affiliate sales.

Now let’s look at some of the wider market ramifications:

  • Google Europe has made a heap more money as advertisers rush in to bid on each others trademarked terms.
  • It now costs all advertisers more money to maintain their Adwords campaigns. The result is that paid search is delivering diminished returns.
  • Of the press articles and news items I have read, I can’t find an advertiser that’s happy about Google’s decision to pull out of Adwords trademarking.
  • Major retailers – such as the big supermarkets – now have ‘gentlemen’s agreements’ in place amongst themselves to avoid the others trademarks. The rationale presumably being there’s no need to confuse the end user.
  • Rather than relying on Google to protect against trademarks, advertisers are now taking competitors and/or Google to court (amongst others read about Louis Vuitton versus Google).
  • Google’s decision to not protect trademark owners is not final. They’ve given themselves the option to back-track. Reading between the lines – Google might re-instate their trademark policy if their hand is forced by the law courts, or the advertisers kick up enough of a fight.

If you have any updates or thoughts on the above then please comment on this post. We’d love to hear from you.

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