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Will Google end up supporting counterfeiters? news
25 September 2010

Google's new trademark policy will see advertising costs spiral, counterfeits rise, brand owners damaged, Matthew Whiteway, client services director at specialist search and social marketing consulting and technology firm Greenlight

Matthew WhitewayLast week Google announced it would be rolling out a new trademark policy in the UK (to replicate that of the US). Matthew Whiteway, Client Services Director at Greenlight, a specialist search and social marketing consulting and technology firm, says this will have severe implications for advertisers, user experience and brand owners.

According to Whiteway, not only do brand owners now risk losing sales to unauthorised sellers and counterfeiters, they will see spiralling costs in their pay per click (PPC) campaigns. In one case, a well known brand has already seen its brand cost per click (CPC) increase 104 per cent in one day alone, as a result of the sheer number of unauthorised and counterfeit sellers now bidding and using its trademarked terms in its ad copy.

Previously, Google had amended its trademark policy allowing any advertiser to ''bid'' on a company's trademarked terms. Whilst some advertisers initially saw this as an opportunity to pinch traffic from competitors, in reality, due to Quality Score implications, very few actively bid aggressively on competitor terms.

Google's new trademark policy goes one step further. It allows advertisers to actually display the trademarked keyword in their ad copy (providing they are a reseller, provider of components or for informational purposes).

The rationale behind the change in policy is a little unclear. However, Google appears to be distancing itself from any form of trademark owner complaints, stating it is simply a ''provider of space for advertisements'' and that any trademark complainants should be made directly with the advertiser.

Whilst it can be argued the user is now being delivered more results and therefore more choice, should brands owners have the right to choose which advertisers can and cannot use their brand terms in ad copy?

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Will Google end up supporting counterfeiters?