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Just to clear up some confusion over the recently announced changes to Google’s trademark policy in the UK.

  • What has changed: What Google will enforce in the UK and Ireland
  • What hasn’t changed: Trademark Law

Just because Google has softened its policy does not mean that advertisers should jump into advertising on third party trademark terms without thought. Care still needs to be taken to consider the law (in particular those relating to trademark infringements and passing off).

What Google is now giving you the opportunity to do, can be likened to the chance to put up a sign near your competitor’s shop. A lawyer is likely to tell you that doing so is perfectly legal. (See this case for some supporting evidence of this)

Where you need to take more care is in what you write on that sign. For example it is probably OK to claim to be an alternative to a competitor but unacceptable to claim to be identical to a named competitor.

The same rules are likely to apply to the writing of your text adverts on Google: Legally acceptable to bid on the phrase, not acceptable to attempt to trick people into believing you are the same company.

The other consideration is your brand values some may prefer to keep their brand free of any potential negative associations that may come with bidding on someone elses name.

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