Keyword Advertising, Trademarks and what it means for Online Businesses
Does your business use search engine tactics to get to the top of the pile in a search and out-do your competitors? If so, some important developments in this field will be of particular interest to you and your business.
In an article posted in smallbusiness.co.uk, trade mark specialist Rob White discusses the potential impact of ruling by the UK High Court in a case between flower retailer Interflora and retail giant Marks & Spencer’s. In this case M&S purchased a series of keywords that were linked to Interflora as a way to have their adverts appear in searches for Interflora. The courts ruled that this amounted to trade mark infringement claiming that “keyword advertising is a very powerful tool and so it is vital for consumer protection that internet search results take consumers directly to the brands they are looking for.”
This could create some threats to online retailers who currently utilize keyword advertising tools such as Google AdWords. Rob White presents some useful tips to avoid potential trade mark pitfalls including:
- Avoid using in any way the competitor’s trade mark in the text of the advert or the URL link
- Use your own brand in the text to make it even clearer you are offering an alternative
- On clicking the advert, ensure the website clearly relates to your own business and makes no reference to the competitor’s brand or uses any of its logos or brands
Business owners must also keep in mind that this can go both ways and is not restricted to your own practices. If a competitor is purchasing keywords that include your trade mark then it is possible that they could be in violation of trade mark. Although these situations are dealt with on a case by case basis, it is an area with which online business should consider.
Alexander McIsaac Southampton University Law student