Thursday, July 16, 2009

Inside Google's US Trademark Policy

It has been a while since Google's new trademark policy allowing the use of trademarks in the text of ads went into effect. This was a big deal when it was announced (ironically during the Annual Meeting of the International Trademark Association). Even the New York Times covered the story. I thought it might be helpful to take a closer look at the limitations on when Google will allow or disallow an advertiser to use a trademark in the text of an ad.

Google's policy places 5 limitations on when an advertiser can use a trademark in the text of its ad (and I'm paraphrasing here):

1. If the ad uses the trademark in a descriptive or generic way not referring to the trademark owner or the corresponding goods or services.

2. If the ad uses the trademark to refer to the trademark owner.

3. If the ad is used in connection with the re-sale of the trademarked goods or services.

4. If the ad uses the trademark in connection with the sale of replacement parts or compatible components corresponding to the trademark.

5. If the ad uses the trademark for informational purposes where the advertiser does not sell competiting goods.

What are your thoughts? Is this adequate to guard against trademark infringement? Take the poll in the right hand margin on whether you think keyword advertising is trademark infringement.