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Google Updates its Worldwide Ads’ Trademarks Policy

Trademark protection and preventing advertisers targeting ads at competitors has long been a controversial issue with Google Ads. However, there has always been some controls around this area and Google has recently announced significant worldwide changes to its trademark policy for Ads. They have emailed advertisers who currently have a trademark complaint on file with them about the upcoming policy updates.

Beginning on July 24 2023, Google has said that they will accept and process trademark complaints only against specific advertisers and/or ads, rather than all advertisers in the trademark owner’s industry. When new trademark complaints are filed, Google will investigate only the specific advertiser(s) the trademark owner observes.

This changes therefore differs from the previous ‘blanket ban’ once a trademark is registered and approved with Google, and it’s thought that more prominent, well-known brands will be impacted the most. They will therefore need to be on the lookout as the new policy could lead to extra administrative work for them, as they will need to file separate complaints against individual infringers.

Migration to the new policy system will be phased over time and as new trademark complaints are filed under the new policy. Any trademark restrictions implemented before July 24 will be gradually phased out for most advertisers in the next 12-18 months.

These specific policies haven’t changed:

  • Advertisers in the United States and the EU can still bid on trademarked keywords. However, they cannot use competitor trademarks in the ad copy.
  • Some countries in the EU may not allow advertising on trademarked keywords. Other countries have allowed it in recent years.

In summary, advertisers who has previously made a trademark complaint should be on the lookout for potential new defendants during the next 12-18 months.

For advertisers bidding on competitor terms, bidding on branded keywords is still acceptable, but including another trademark owner’s name in the ads is still a violation.

You can read the entire Google policy.

If you want to know how the changes to the Google Ads trademark policy could impact your business, please get in touch.