Help! Someone is Using my Trademark in a Google Ad!
GOOGLE ADS & PROTECTING YOUR TRADEMARKS IN AUSTRALIA
TRADEMARKS AND TECHNOLOGY UPDATE
About Google Ads & Keywords
What are Google Ads and Keywords?
Google Ads is an online advertising platform developed by Google, where advertisers pay to display brief advertisements, service offerings, product listings, video content etc. within the Google Ad network to web users.
The advertisements (ads) may appear:
Above search results when someone looks for terms related to your goods or services; or
When someone browses a website with content similar to that of your business.
Keywords in Google Ads are terms you choose for your ad that you believe potential customers will use when they search for goods or services offered by your enterprise.
For example, if you sell tasty cheese, you could use the keyword “tasty cheese” and pair it with your ad that sells that product.
These keywords are supplied by you directly to Google and are not visible to other users of the internet.
What Can I Put in a Google Ad in Australia?
Trademark and/or consumer law may be breached if trademark owners are not careful regarding their use of competitors’ trademarks in their own Google Ads.
The leading Australian case authority on what is permitted in a Google Ad is Veda Advantage Limited v Malouf Group Enterprises Pty Limited  FCA 255 (the Veda case), and the position adopted in this case overrules what is permissible in the Google Ads Trademarks Policy.
Update to the Google Ads Trademarks Policy
Google recently announced that they will be applying their current Reseller and Informational Site (RIS) Policy to most countries worldwide to ensure uniformity with their overarching Trademarks Policy. Over the coming months, Google will begin enforcing their RIS Policy in France, Germany, Japan, Portugal and Spain.
The Essence of the RIS Policy
The RIS Policy forms part of the Google Ads Trademarks Policy and is already enforced in many regions, including Australia.
A trademarked term may be used in the text of the advertisement if the advertiser is a reseller of, offers compatible parts for, or provides information about the goods or services associated with the trademark.
To be classified as a “reseller”:
The landing page of the advertisement must have the goods or services related to the trademarked term as its focus; and
The goods or services are clearly available for purchase from the page.
To qualify as an eligible “informational site”:
The main purpose of the landing page for the advertisement is to provide informative details of the goods or services matching the trademarked term.
Who Does this Update Concern?
Anyone considering or already using Google Ads.
Owners of trademarks and those who have lodged trademark complaints with Google.
Why the Change?
Greater uniformity with a single set of consistent policies.
Further alignment with laws governing fair use of trademarks for informative purposes.
How Can We Help?
Contact us now if you have any queries regarding how you may protect or maximise use of your trademark where Google Ads is involved.
This article intends to outline some of the trademark issues that you may need to address with your legal counsel when protecting or advertising your trademark. It does not go into great depth with the subject matter, but offers useful insights into the basics. It is not legal advice and it is not exhaustive of all laws and issues that may apply to your particular business. Qualified legal counsel should review the details of your trademark protection or advertisement in the relevant jurisdictions.