Google AdWords: Can’t Beat ‘Em?

Google generates serious revenue ($20 billion+) from its AdWords program and “Keyword Suggestion Tool”. Yahoo! has its equivalent Sponsored Search service, and so does Microsoft through Bing Search Advertising.

All of these internet advertising services allow advertisiers to buy “keywords” to appear in online ads within sponsored search results.  Advertisers can buy words, phrases, or even a competitor’s trade-mark to ensure that their ads appear in the sponsored results. This practice is common… and so is the frustration of brand owners when they Google their own brand and then see competitor’s ads popping up.  If you’re one of those brand owners, what can you do about it?  If Rescuecom’s experience is anything to go by, then the answer might be … if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Rescuecom’s attempt to sue the mighty Google (Rescuecom Corp. v. Google, Inc., 562 F.3d) achieved some success – a US appeal court determined that Rescuecom could proceed with its trade-mark infringement lawsuit based on the sale of Rescuecom as a “keyword”.  But Google (predictably) fought back tooth-and-nail, and Rescuecom recently dropped its suit altogether.  Now, it is Rescuecom that is in trouble for its own AdWords use of a competitor’s mark: Best Buy’s “geek squad”.   Rescuecom is trying to convince the court that its use of a competitor’s mark in AdWords is legitimate.   Everyone else is buying up their own brands as keywords, to prevent competitors from getting there first.

Meanwhile, Google continues to cash cheques.

Related Reading: a list of current AdWords Lawsuits

Calgary – 10:00 MST

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