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Google Adwords: Legal Issues

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Finally, new blog post after a long period of hibernation. Two obvious reasons for such an extensive delay, lack of time for dedicated blogging, and never-ending search for topics which will result in interesting posts. At last, got both of them. :)
After a continuous search for a topic, which may be covered in a series of posts, pinned down on GOOGLE ADWORDS, which is one of the most happening discussions since past few months.
This post will cover just few basic issues, and the subsequent posts will cover review of litigation across multiple jurisdictions, along with other related issues.
To begin with, as we all know, keyword advertising is an essential revenue stream for search engines. Consequently, several lawsuits threaten this revenue model and could cut into the revenue streams of Google, Yahoo, and others. Precisely, Google’s adwords are a quick and simple way to purchase highly targeted cost-per-click (CPC) advertising, regardless of your budget. AdWords ads are displayed along with search results on Google, as well as on search and content sites in the growing ad network, including AOL, EarthLink, HowStuffWorks, & Blogger etc. When a person creates a Google AdWords ad, he chooses keywords for which his ad will appear and specify the maximum amount he is willing to pay for each click. Thereafter, he only pays when someone clicks on his ad.
Now, where is the legal problem? Google’s AdWords service allows advertisers to sponsor particular search terms. Whenever that term is searched the advertiser’s link will appear next to the search results. A company can choose a trademark protected term as keyword. So if you enter “trademark protected term” in the Google search box and hit “Search”, you would get listings from advertisers who paid for placement with this keyword. Google puts those listings off to the right side of the screen, clearly marked as ads. Trademark owners are concerned about their brand awareness and insist that this behavior violates their trademarks.
If we see Google’s FAQ, it states: “As a provider of space for advertisements, we cannot arbitrate trademark disputes between advertisers and trademark owners. As stated in our Terms and Conditions, advertisers are responsible for the keywords and ad text that they choose to use. We encourage trademark owners to resolve their disputes directly with our advertisers, particularly because the advertisers may have similar advertisements on other sites. As a courtesy, we are willing to perform a limited investigation of reasonable complaints. When we receive a complaint from a trademark owner, our review is limited to ensuring that the advertisements at issue are not using the trademarked term as a keyword trigger. If they are, we disable those keywords from the ad campaign….”
Further posts will be a detailed review of all the issues, along with discussions related law suits in US, Europe, India and other countries.
Keep looking for future posts, as you will not have to wait long enough. Cheers :)

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