AdWords: Changes in Trademark Policy

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SEM · 15 / 03 / 2016

Google AdWords updates its trademark policy: The use of brand Names in AdWords keywords is allowed in Google’s policy and the Supreme Court corroborates it. What can not be done is to mislead the consumer about your identity or what product you offer, so the advertisement include the brand in question or pretend to be.

AdWords has been dragging for several years a very peculiar gray area: Who can appear in the payment results of a search that includes a brand term? From Google’s point of view, the thing was very clear. If a company shows you that you have the trademark rights over a name or words, Google will prohibit the use of those terms in your browser’s text ads. So “easy.”

Situation in Spain

But the Spanish legislation was not so clear. Everyone understands, and has been prosecuted in the past, that an advertiser cannot use the brand name in the text ads to impersonate his or her competitors, or use the distinctive terms of their products or services without permission or to slightly modify its name with the clear intention of confusing the user and visit their website instead of the one they originally looked for.

But what about keywords? What happen if you add a brand name to appear in our competitor’s searches but in the ad we talk about our own products or services? Is it that legal?

marca registrada

Google will prohibit the use of brand terms in ads

Well, here is the final answer

The Supreme Court has issued a ruling through the Civil room and has ruled that an advertiser may bid for keywords that refer to the competition as long as they do not pass their product or service to the competition in the ad, making clear the policy of trademarks to be used from now on by the platform. This conclusion comes after the Denunciation of Mahero Ibérica In defense of its brand terms “madives” and “”, a brand specializing in the online sale of shoe templates to gain height. Their competitor, Berttulli shoes, used these terms in their SEM campaigns (in 2011!) to place their products of similar features but always making it clear that they were another provider and without using those terms in the ads themselves. In this way it is determined that, in line with the guidelines of the Court of Justice of the European Union, the exclusivity rights of a trade mark only serve to prohibit another company from attempting to identify its product or service with the protected terms, but Not for other uses.

Tribunal Marca AdWords

Bidding by brand keywords is allowed

And here’s the key, the High Court allows us to use these keywords to position ourselves in the first advertising spaces through SEM, but not to confuse the potential user or client about the identity of the company that teaches the ad. It should be recalled that due to the bidding system and quality notes related to relevance, an advertiser bidding on keywords with their brand name should not pay more than €0.10 per click (a very low CPC) if you have mounted the campaign well, while a competitor bidding for those same words must pay 5 to 10 times more for that click because the relevance note (which determines the CPC) of your ad and web in relation to the keyword is much lower.


In short, and we hope that definitively, the Supreme Court has ruled that the advertising strategy of capturing the search traffic of your competition through its keywords is legal. A practice, by the way, very common in SEM advertising. From Digital Menta It seems to us the most sensible posture because it gives more power to the consumer to choose between all the suppliers of a service or product, even if they know only one brand, but still respects the effort and merit that any business deserves if it gets the attention of a Consumer who decides he wants to meet him first. That if, it leaves it in the hands of the same consumer to persevere in that interest.


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