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Can I Advertise On A Competitor's Trademark in a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ad?

Posted by fusionbox on March 10, 2011, 5 p.m.

Laws are ever changing, and that makes the world of Pay-Per-Click Advertising complicated to navigate. This is especially true when it comes to advertising on a competitor's trademark - what's allowed, and what isn't? What shouldn't you do? What can you stop your competitors from doing?

Recently (as of March 8th, 2011), there has been some clarification of these matters by the courts following from a California hearing: Network Automation, Inc. v. Advanced Systems Concepts, Inc.

Here's the main breakdown of rules:

It's currently legal to buy trademarked terms in a PCC forum, like AdWords and adCenter, if:

  1. The trademarked term is not in your ad.
  2. The corresponding product/service is not referenced on your website.
  3. You don't harm the competitor's reputation or product/service.
  4. You don't include any comparisons that include trademark infringements.

The main thing to keep in mind here is that it's okay to advertise on the term so long as you aren't deceptive - your product/service is not the same thing as your competitor's. It's something comparable that a user might enjoy more if given the chance.

Never confuse a potential customer into thinking you are said competitor, and don't use their trademark in your ad.

If you find that someone is using your trademark in their PPC ad, you can complain via the Google Trademark Complaint Form or the Bing Intellectual Property Complaint Form.

If you want help, feel free to contact the Denver Internet Marketing experts here at Fusionbox.

Read more about the case itself on SearchEngineWatch.com - Court: Bidding on Competitor's Name OK in AdWords, adCenter.