back to article Google trademark grab defies mounting lawsuits

Despite facing multiple lawsuits over the sale of trademarked keywords on its web-dominating ad machine, Google has expanded the use of trademarks by US advertisers. Yesterday, with a post to the Google AdWords blog, the company said it will soon allow the use of trademarks in the text displayed by its online search ads. "We …


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  1. Frumious Bandersnatch

    while we're at it

    Doesn't a trademark lose its protection if the noun becomes a verb in common parlance and the trademark owner does nothing to stop it? The case of Hoover's trademark relating to vacuum cleaners comes to mind. For that reason, I encourage everyone to use "google" and "iphone" (snowcloned to any suitable value of I-foo) in their commercial offerings. Full disclosure: I love to get my schadenfreude from the morning news.

  2. ChessGeek

    Does Google think we're idiots?

    "Imagine opening your Sunday paper and seeing ads from a large supermarket chain that didn't list actual products for sale; instead, they simply listed the categories of products available - offers like 'Buy discount cola' and 'Snacks on sale.' The ads wouldn't be useful since you wouldn't know what products are actually being offered. For many categories of advertisers, this is the problem they have faced on Google for some time,"

    Not even close. What Google is doing would be like opening an ad and seeing: "Looking for Pringles Chips? Try our Crunchies Chips instead. They taste better and are half the price."

    Or maybe: "Are you still searching on Google? Come over to Whoogle where we don't bug you with nearly as many ads as Google does and you'll get better results too."

    Now, how long does Google expect us to believe Pringles would put up with the first type of advertising or Google would put up with the second?

  3. Jonathan

    Makes sense to me!

    If I do a search the search "Nokia N97" I probably want to see the listings for the best deal for said item, I don't particularly want the listing for So surely it makes sense for Adwords to allow trademarks (it would appear they already do). Maybe I have misunderstood!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "google" as a generic term

    Does it help that "googleberry" is a term used with Enid Blyton's Noddy?

  5. Martin

    they all seem to go through it

    forgetting who their most important stakeholder is when companies get beyonda certain size, in this case google seems to have forgotten that its the people who use its search engine to find things that they want instead of what google gets paid for.

    Quite a few people have told me how they 'dont use google anymore as you can never find what you want'

    I suspect the people at google are clever enough to see their way through instead of just listening to the beancounters

  6. Tam Lin

    @FB Hoover

    It's a territorial thing. Mention Hoover in the states and most people will think you mean the president during WWD I, a damn big dam, or Monica Lewinsky. They won't think vacuum cleaners.

  7. Lewis Mettler

    use of trademarks

    Of course the owner of a trademark would like to be the only one permitted to use that trademark.

    But, that is not the way it is.

    Trademarks are even used for comparison purposes in advertisements all the time.

    We have all seen the drug advertisments that say their new drug is 30% more effective than placebo. (Placebo not being a trademark at all.) But, we have also seen advertisemens saying their drug is better than the competitors. And they often times mention the other product by trademark. The famous Apple ads certainly use the Microsoft trademark, right?

    All search engines are doing is making it easier to find sources for trademark goods and goods competing with trademark goods. We generally do not have a means to search print and audio ads that way but in time that may be the case too.

    Individual ads on google could violate the use of a trademark. But, that is hardly the search engines fault.

    To be honest, allowing the use of trademarks in ads (even on search engines) is a valuable service to the consumer. Both those looking for trademark goods and for those looking for a cheaper alternative. Or, those who do not know what they want.

    As for the timing of these law suits or the new Google policy you can speculate. But, the courts in time will need to figure out this ability of consumers to conduct searches based upon trademarks. And if you only allow the trademark owner to use the word, consumers do suffer.

    Search engines should not be the exclusive use of trademark holders. Perhaps some other search service could provide that feature if they wanted to. And maybe some do. But a more broad use of trademarks is in the interest of consumers.

  8. Dillon Pyron
    Thumb Down

    The difference is ...

    The comment is made "what if a grocery store didn't list the products?" Well, guess what, the grocery store is selling those products and paying the maker for the right to do so (by buying the product and marking it up). When a person "buys" a trademark "from" Google, the trademark owner isn't getting any kind of compensation.

    Let's say I own a trademark. Let's call, um, Netserenity (okay, I do). Someone goes off to Google and bids it up, for no other purpose than to divert interest in to my website and business to their site. That's an ugly sort of bait & switch, in my opinion. Which, sadly, the courts will adjudicate after much gnashing of teeth and beating of chests. And flinging of both doo and money.

    So, my local grocery store advertises Campbell's Chicken Noodle soup*. But when I get there, all they have is Chuck's Gizzards and Cardboard. Was I misled? Yes. Was Campbell's ripped off? Let the judges decide. I wonder who the "Learned Nine Men" will be when it gets that far, as it probably shall.

    * trademark of CSC Brands LP

  9. Dillon Pyron

    Re: Use of trademarks

    Of course one may use trademarks in advertising, provided it is done properly. For instance, the Apple ads DO state that Microsoft is a trademark of Microsoft, Inc. Note my other post.

    But these Adword pirates aren't doing that, nor are they using the trademarks in either an informative or comparative fashion, both of which are permitted.

  10. Winkypop Silver badge


    I think:

    - Hoover Dam

    - Vacuum cleaners

    - Cross dressing FBI directors

  11. Alan Penzotti

    Now if ALL trademarks were disallowed by Google...

    ...Including use by the trademark holder, let's see how quickly the trademark holders change their tune.

  12. TeeCee Gold badge
    Thumb Down


    Yes, you're missing something. Using your analogy, you certainly don't want a whole page of Motorola retailers all carping on about how shite the N97 is and how you should buy a Motorola instead. The Nokia retailers are all allowed by Nokia to use the branding anyway (unless they're bent).

    This is GooBlackmail 0.7 (Beta 2). What they're saying is: "You wouldn't want anything nasty to happen to your trademark now, would you? You know, like your competitors getting all the sales leads from searches for it? We can stop that happening for you. Now this may seem like a lot of money at first glance, but it's a small price to pay for staying in business around here, I'm sure you'll agree. Think of it as 'insurance' for your trademark."

    You know? I think you could almost describe it as, er, evil...........

  13. James Hughes

    "Looking for Pringles Chips? "

    "Looking for Pringles Chips? Try our Crunchies Chips instead. They taste better and are half the price."

    Well, that's the sort of advert I WANT to see. When I look around I spend ages trying to find the equivalent product and a better price, both on the interweb and on foot. Roll on times when that onerous task gets quicker.

    Now of course, they may not taste as good, but you would know that after tasting, and know not to buy them again (or use that seller again).

    As long as the advert doesn't lie, I am failing to see the harm (except to some profits from the overchargers). I'm sure someone will point out the error of my ways though...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    People still worship google?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    "google" as a generic term

    @ AC 08:15 GMT

    Google is a piece of derivative work, does nobody <cough cough> remember when Major Charles <cough> Ingram on “Who wants to be a <cough> millionaire” <cough cough> tried to 'win' <cough cough>

    A Googol is a cardinal number represented as 1 followed by 100 zeros (ten raised to the power of a hundred) and the term was first used by in 1938[1] by Milton Sirotta (1929–1980),

    for the nerds...

    Googol is of the same order of magnitude as the factorial of 70 (70! being approximately 1.198 googol, or 10 to the power 100.0784), and its only prime factors are 2 and 5 (100 of each). In binary it would take up 333 bits.

    Not sure what that is in Olympic swimming pools or Bulgarian funbags....

    Paris, co's she makes me want to <cough cough>

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