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The ultimate guide to Google Adwords trademark infringement
Trademark Infringement
5 mins

The ultimate guide to Google Adwords trademark infringement

Table of Contents:

    Google Adwords is a pay-per-click advertising system that enables businesses to show their ads through Google’s search engine and partner websites. 90% of consumers say ads influence the purchase decisions they make online. Therefore Google Adwords is an essential tool that businesses can use to grow their brand online and reach new customers. 

    Unfortunately, Google Adwords is also a space that is susceptible to online scammers and bad actors. These individuals may upload content onto the platform that violates your brand’s intellectual property (IP) rights. This has the potential to undermine your brand online and cut into your sales. To ensure you can protect your business on Google Adwords you need to act now. 

    In this blog, we’ve laid out our ultimate guide to Google Adwords trademark infringement. We’ve explored a variety of topics that will help your business tackle trademark infringers, including: 

    • How Google Adwords can be a ground for infringement?
    • What’s Google’s Adwords trademark policy?
    • Google Adwords trademark infringement handbook 
    • How to automatically detect and report Google Adwords trademark infringement

    How Google Adwords can be a ground for infringement?

    Trademarks help to distinguish the goods or services of one business from another. They can protect recognizable words, symbols, phrases, and expressions. Trademark infringement occurs when an individual or business uses a trademark without the permission of the trademark owner. 

    Google Adwords is a system that helps businesses choose and target keywords that they can then use to advertise their brand on Google. One way to successfully target consumers is by using a phrase or word that is registered as a trademark. Keywords can be bought from Google or secured via a bidding process. 

    So, how can Google Adwords be grounds for infringement? 

    The law surrounding the use of trademarks in search engine keyword advertising is complex and has been the subject of a number of cases. Case law states that if the ad fails to make it clear that the advertised products originate from someone other than the trademark owner then there may be infringement of the trademark. Landing pages and URLs that mislead users while using trademarks may also be grounds for infringement. 

    What’s Google’s Adwords trademark policy?

    Google’s advertising policies portal has a dedicated section on trademarks, that outlines their guidelines for advertisers on their platform.  Here they state that they abide by local trademark laws and don’t allow ads that infringe trademark rights. 

    Their policy considers where and how a trademark can be used in ads.

    Google will not restrict:

    • Use of trademarks as keywords, as long as the trademark is used in the ad (and not only on the ad’s landing page). 
    • Trademarks that are used in the second-level domain or post-domain path of the ad’s display URL. 
    • How the trademark is used, if the ad is using the trademark descriptively in its ordinary meaning. 
    • How the trademark is used, if the landing page of the ad using the trademark is primarily dedicated to selling products or services, components, replacement parts, or compatible products or services corresponding to the trademark. 

    Google will restrict: 

    • How the trademark is used, if the trademark is used in an ad from a direct competitor. 
    • How the trademark is used, if the ad is using the trademark in a confusing, deceptive, or misleading way. 

    Google’s stance on processing trademark complaints changed recently. They stated that, “Beginning on July 24, 2023, we will accept and process trademark complaints only against specific advertisers and/or ads, rather than all advertisers in the trademark owner’s industry.” 

    The impact of this change has yet to be seen. However, it is likely to influence the specificity of the complaints and reduce the need for trademark owners to constantly authorize the use of their trademarks. 

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    Google Adwords trademark infringement handbook 

    Google has an internal support system through which you can report content on Google Adwords that you believe is violating your trademarks. The process is as follows: 

    Step 1: Head over to Google’s Legal Help page. 

    Step 2: Select ‘A Google Ad’ and ‘Search Ad’ as the content you are reporting. 

    Step 3: Select the reason you wish to report the content. 

    Here select ‘Legal reasons to report content’, ‘Intellectual Property’, ‘Trademark’ and confirm that you are the trademark owner. 

    Step 4: Create a request.

    Step 5: Provide information about the trademark owner. 

    Step 6: Specify details of the infringing ad alongside information about your trademark.  

    Step 7: Attach supporting documentation then verify and submit your report to Google. 

    Often trademark infringement on Google Adwords centers on the use of keywords that have been trademarked by businesses. Brands can bid on these keywords to help secure prime ad placement in Google search results. 

    While anyone can bid on trademarked keywords, Google restricts the way they can be used in the ad title and copy. Businesses can adjust their keyword bids to ensure they can both maximize clicks and steer clear of trademark infringement. 

    After submission: What to expect?

    After you have submitted your report, Google will review and decide whether the content has violated their policies.  The timeline for Google’s response will depend on the nature of the report and the amount of requests Google is dealing with at the time. On average it can take 6 hours for Google to process your report, but it can take up to 14 days for Google to actually review the whole report. 

    The more detailed your report is the easier it will be for Google to review and make a decision. The possible outcomes of this review are usually either the removal of the ad if they deem it has infringing content, or no action if the content is deemed to not violate their policies. If you are not satisfied with Google’s decision you may want to consider using a specialized ad protection solution. 

    How to automatically detect and report Google Adwords trademark infringement

    Taking the manual approach outlined above can be effective for addressing a limited number of individual trademark infringement cases that pose minimal risks to your brand. However, when it comes to managing this issue on a larger scale or confronting more malicious infringers, a dedicated and automated solution is not only more efficient in terms of volume but also allows you to take a proactive rather than reactive strategy. Instead of scrambling to solve problems as they arise, an automated solution enables you to anticipate issues and take swift, preemptive action to protect your brand.

    Red Points’ Ad Protection is a solution that will help your business automatically find and take down Google Adwords trademark infringers. Powered by smart technology and supported by experienced professionals, our solution will allow you to detect any unlicensed use of your IP in Google Adwords and take action quickly. 

    Here’s how it works: 

    • Find

    To identify infringements effectively across major search engines like Google and Bing, we use a tailored approach uses keywords, geography, and frequency as key parameters. Keywords narrow search focus, geography targets specific locations, and frequency determines how often searches are conducted to capture all violations.

    • Filter

    We then filter and prioritize infringements for you to review. Within the filtering system, there are infringement details such as display URLs, and ad copy, to allow you to make informed decisions. Using this filtering system you will be able to prioritize high-risk incidents and start the reporting process. 

    • Remediate

    You can then submit search engine infringements in bulk and start reaching out to third parties with pre-populated email templates. This can all be achieved within our PPC tool, ensuring that the remediation process is as accessible and efficient as possible. 

    The automated, cost-effective, and time-saving approach to trademark infringement detection and removal will provide you with protection across over 240+ countries and territories. 

    What’s next

    A proactive approach to trademark infringement on Google Adwords will help your business protect its intellectual property, customer relationships, and brand reputation. By investing in an automated solution to help you tackle this problem you will be able to act with precision and efficiency every day. 

    Google Ads drive a tremendous amount of traffic. They can be an essential tool for your business, allowing you to reach new customers and create repeat purchasers. Therefore it is vital that you act now to safeguard your brand from trademark infringement and online scammers. 

    To learn more about how Red Points can help you deal with the problem of Google Adwords trademark infringement, request a demo here. 


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