Google Ads Changes Trademark Policy, Puts More Accountability On Brands

Google Ads will begin rolling out changes to its Trademark Policy on July 24, and will only consider trademark complaints against specific advertisers and ads, rather than all advertisers in the trademark owner’s industry.

In an email to advertisers and agencies, Google explains that the policy update should make resolutions faster and easier -- reducing industry-wide restrictions that can frustrate advertisers.

“As part of the migration to a new policy enforcement system and as new submissions are made under the updated policy, trademark restrictions implemented prior to July 24, 2023 will be gradually phased out for most advertisers over the next 12-18 months,” according to the email.

Proactive vs. reactive, the burden to secure trademarks has always been on the advertiser, despite Google’s policy alleging something different.

For the past eight or so years, Google has said it would protect advertisers against trademark infringement, but not all believe they did -- at least not for the smaller companies.

The program initially required brands to file the trademark with the search engine.

The companies filled out a form with Google specifying the specific companies that could use the trademark. Then they had to monitor the keyword list online to ensure non-authorized companies did not use it on their website or in ad copy. Once ads or website were found to be in violation, marketers needed to fill out a complaint form, describing each individual ad and submitting it to Google.

The Search Monitor -- a company that provides real-time competitive intelligence tools to monitor brand and trademark use, affiliate compliance, and competitive advertisers -- exists as a company because brands could not rely on Google to block the ads.

“A company would provide an approved advertisers list that could use the mark,” says Lori Weiman, CEO at The Search Monitor. “Theoretically, the ad would be flagged for those not approved and Google would reject running it.”

Advertisers may use trademarks that belong to others in certain situations, such as when they are identifying a product that they resell.

If a trademark owner submits a complaint to Google about the use of their trademark in Google Ads, it will be reviewed and Google may restrict the use of the trademark.

The goal is that it will become easier to stop trademark infringement and remove the ads and copy.

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