Microsoft will no longer investigate complaints that words used to trigger search adverts constitute trade mark infringement in the US. The change to its search advert policy in the US mirrors Google's existing policy. The rules governing search adverts in the UK remain unchanged and forbid the use of keywords in a way that …
Our supermarket has a coupon printer tied to the barcode reader, so if you buy a particular product, it will produce a coupon. A while ago, I bought some almond milk from brand A, and a coupon for brand B came out. This week I used the coupon and bought some brand B almond milk. A coupon for brand A came out.
None of this makes me think that brand A is brand B. It makes me think that A and B are aware of their competition and their target market. They win because they get people to try their products and I win because I have choice and save money.
Applied to the the ad-serving model, if I do a search on A, and I get search results for A accompanied by a responsible* ad for B, I now know I have two choices, A still gets their search placement, and B gets a plug as well. Everybody still wins.
*Responsibility is the key. If B deliberately produces an ad which implies that B is A, or the search engine formats the ad such that it appears as a search result, that's fraudulent and should not be allowed.
So, surprisingly, it looks like the US model is actually sensible on this one.
As I have previously noted, the situation in AUS was that Keyword use was a breach of Trade Mark. This following a cosy little undefended breach-of-trademark case between Ford and General Motors in the early days of the internet.
I would be interested to know what the situation is now.
A Google search on "Holden" brings up only "Holden" adds, a search on "Ford" brings up only "Ford" adds, and the only way to get a "Great Wall" or "Proton" result is to search for those specific terms. Handy for the well-known car companies: tough for anyone trying to enter the market.
You are missing a relevant fact
May be I missed it in the article, but the reason Microsoft will not be pursing keyword-based trademark infringements in the US is that a Texas court last year ruled there is no offence being committed. So all they are doing is complying with the law in the jurisdiction where it applies and not where it doesn't. Just standard practice, right?
There's a lot more money to be made if these keywords are accepted, so if the possibility exists, it is a no brainer really.
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