March 31, 2020

Can I Bid on Trademarked Terms? Yes!

There seems to be a lot of confusion about this question on the internet. I was unable to find a decent website that deals with bidding on trademarked terms on Google adwords and it’s pretty well hidden in their TOS, so here goes.

Oh yeah. Now’s also a good time to say that everything on my blog reflects MY opinions and and views, and not those of my employers (current, past, or future.)

So can you advertise on trademarked terms?

Yes – if you don’t include that term in your ad title, text, or url. In other words, I can bid on the word “Kleenex” as long as my ad doesn’t say “Kleenex” Instead, I’d have to use a generic term like “facial tissue” in my ad.

To quote the adwords TOS: (for the US, UK, Ireland, and Canada) “When we receive a complaint from a trademark owner, we only investigate the use of the trademark in ad text. If the advertiser is using the trademark in ad text, we will require the advertiser to remove the trademark and prevent them from using it in the future. Please note that we will not disable keywords in response to a trademark complaint.”

That last sentence is particularly useful. Google doesn’t care what you bid on, they care about what’s in your ad.

So should you bid on trademarked terms?

Absolutely! Especially if it’s a case of Kleenex, Chap Stick, Q-Tips, or any other trademark that has now become synonymous with the product. Even if you’re not selling a product, it can be helpful to bid on the name of your competitors. If you sell blue widgets for a price lower than company X, then by all means you should be biding on the term “company X” with an ad like “Blue Widgets – 10% cheaper than the competition” or something.

What do I do if somebody is outbidding me for my trademark?

You have a few options here. #1 is to simply outbid them. If somebody is searching for your trademark, it’s probably a very good lead and you can pay more for it. #2 is simply let them. It’s your trademark, they’re looking for it by name already, chance are they’re going to click your ad. #3 is to work on your organic SEO. If you’re not showing up in the #1 organic spot for your name, you need to be. This is really simple to do for trademarked terms.

OK great, but what do I do if somebody is using my trademark in their ad?

If you own the trademark and somebody else is using it in their ad, you should report it to Google. You can do that using this form.

If they’re simply bidding on your keyword there isn’t much you can do. It’s perfectly legal. The famous American Blinds case showed us this. Of course, chances are that American Blinds already knew this before they tried to sue, since they were even doing it themselves.

If somebody is bidding on your trademark though, you may want to check out their website to make sure that they’re not using it there. Chance are they aren’t, but it can’t hurt to check.

I hope this clears up advertising on trademarks. It can be a very profitable advertising strategy if done right.

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About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com