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Google U.S. Trademark Policy Shifts

Posted on 5.14.2009

Perhaps in response to a recent class action lawsuit that says the sale of trademark keywords is illegal, Google is adjusting its U.S. trademark policy (and bringing its existing policy more in line with the industry standard) to allow some ads to use trademarks in the ad text. Sound like a slippery slope? It is.

Under the old policy, a site that sold several trademark brands may not have been able to highlight the actual brands they sell in ad text. Under the new policy, advertisers can create specific ads for each of the brands that they sell.

Under certain criteria, advertisers can use trademark terms in ad text in the U.S. even if they don't own that trademark or have explicit approval from the trademark owner to use it. This change will help to create more narrowly targeted ad text that highlights a merchant's inventory.

Google is aiming to help advertisers navigate the often treacherous trademark waters by adding new functionality to its Search Based Keyword Tool ( Just enter your website URl at the site and if your site contains those brands, you may see a list of brands on the left side of the page. When you click on any of those brands you'll notice a column titled, "Extracted from webpage." Those landing pages may be opportunities for you to show re-sale or informational ads.

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