In our previous article, we discussed the legalities of using a third party brand name in Google ads. In this article, we clarify if competitors are allowed to bid on a name via Google keywords. Read on to find out.
Can A Competitor Use My Trademark As A Keyword In Google Ads?
What does it mean to bid on a brand name? Quite simply, bidding is a strategy to gain the maximum amount of clicks, impressions or conversions, depending on particular goals of the advertiser. When a business bids on a brand name belonging to their direct competitor, the underlying motivation is to direct traffic away from the competitor’s own website or advertisements by targeting a similar audience and presenting themselves as an alternative option for similar goods or services sold.
Players in a niche market are more at risk of a competitor bidding on their trademark in Google ads due to the narrow amount of options made available to the public, be it a new invention or should two companies solely exist as monopolies in the market.
Is Bidding On A Competitor’s Brand Name Legal?
In our previous article, we clarified third parties are not allowed to use your brand name in their search ads, if and only if your name is trademarked.
But are competitors allowed to use your trademark as a keyword in their ads? According to Google, they do not and will not investigate instances where a competitor uses a trademark as keywords, nor will they restrict such activity.
For ads targeting the European Union and European Free Trade Association regions, select limitations are imposed on using trademarks as a keyword, including:
- Ads for descriptive or generic terms without reference to the trademark.
- Ads for competing goods or services.
- Ads for compatible or supplementary goods or services in relation to the trademark.
- Ads for informative websites regarding goods or services in relation to the trademark.
How Can I Take Action Against A Competitor Bidding On My Name?
In general, a business will not be able to take legal action against third parties using their trademark as a keyword in ads. However, you may take several steps to prevent your competitor from stealing web traffic away from your site or ads.
Firstly, you should take steps to bid on your own brand name to ensure the majority of web traffic is directed to you. Under the circumstances of a competitor who bids on your name and you aren’t, the competitor in question will appear as one of the few primary search results in Google search, above your organic search result. Therefore, make sure you are bidding on your own trademark, in addition to your competitor’s name should you wish to do so.
Secondly, you may conduct keyword research to determine the other keywords used by a competitor to increase your own competitive stance in ads.
Lastly, you may choose to file a cease and desist letter to stop a competitor from further bidding on your trademark.
Need help with a competitor using your trademarked name? Get in touch for a free consultation.