Google revises trademark policy in UK and Ireland


Google has amended its policy for dealing with complaints from trademark owners in relation to potential infringements. From May 5 2008 Google will no longer review signs or symbols which are keyword triggers and correspond to a third party's alleged trademark. However, it will continue to perform investigations in relation to reasonable complaints from trademark proprietors regarding advertising text which allegedly violates trademark rights.

Under the new policy, upon receiving a complaint from a trademark proprietor, Google will investigate only the use of the trademark in advertising text. Advertisers may be required to remove the offending text and cease any future use of it on Google's websites. However, the same will not apply to allegations of trademark infringement in relation to keywords, as they are commonly used search terms and site descriptors. Google will no longer disable keywords in response to trademark complaints.

This policy revision applies to complaints received on or after April 4 2008. From May 5 2008, keywords that were previously disabled as a result of complaints by trademark proprietors will no longer be restricted in the United Kingdom or Ireland. Instead, Google is encouraging trademark owners to resolve their disputes directly with advertisers, taking the policing onus off Google itself and placing it on advertisers.

The policy changes reflect similar practices in the United States and Canada. Google claims that it aims to encourage advertisers to:

  • use keywords which are more relevant to their business and their users' interests; and

  • provide users with more relevant information.

To date, it seems that complaints for any other countries will continue to be handled pursuant to the existing policy.

Louise Krosch and Mark A Lubbock, Ashurst LLP, London

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