Have you found a competitor appearing for your brand name on the search engine results page (SERP)?
Have you ever entered your company name into Google search, and found your rival ranking first on the search results page? The primary question that arises from this situation is if it is legal for competitors to use a third party’s brand name in their Google paid search ads.
This article clarifies these questions and more, keep reading!
Can a competitor use my company name in their ads?
The answer is yes – competitors are allowed to use the name of your company in their ads. However, this comes with several caveats.
Firstly, competitors may do so if and only if your company name is not trademarked.
Should your brand name be protected legally under intellectual property law, competitors may not use your name in their paid search ads. You may take legal steps to prevent your rival from continuing such usage on their ads.
Secondly, competitors have the right to use your company name in ads should they do it in a non-deceptive way. Deception is defined as impersonation or representation of themselves as your company.
Are there exceptions to the rule?
According to Google’s guidelines, resellers may use a third party brand name in their paid search ads. For example, fashion e-commerce Zalora may use Nike’s name to advertise the latter company’s sportswear.
Resellers are required to follow specific requirements if they are looking to use protected trademarks in their ads. Resellers need to look out for the following conditions:
- The ad’s landing page is primarily dedicated to selling products or services corresponding to the protected trademark.
- The landing page must clearly provide a way to purchase the products or services and display rates and prices for these products or services.
Resellers are not allowed to do the following:
- Utilise the protective trademark for competitive reasons
- Require users to provide extensive information before displaying commercial information
- Making the ad unclear as to whether the advertiser is a reseller or informational site
Authorised advertisers may also use a protected trademark in paid search ads. However, the owner of the trademark in question will be required to authorise the use of their marks to the third party prior to usage. The authorisation process may be done via Google.
Competitors may also use certain terms in their ad text in reference to your brand name. For example, using the term descriptively instead of referencing the trademark directly. Competitors may also refer to goods and services that do not correspond to the trademark.
In our next article, we will clarify if it is legal for competitors to use your brand name in their search keywords.
Have more questions? Our IP professionals have the answers. Get in touch for a free consultation.