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Old 02-23-2006   #1
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Yahoo No Longer Allow Bidding On Trademarked Terms

Here is an excerpt from an email that I got from Yahoo!:

"On March 1, 2006, Yahoo! Search Marketing will modify its editorial
guidelines regarding the use of keywords containing trademarks.
Previously, we allowed competitive advertising by allowing advertisers
to bid on third-party trademarks if those advertisers offered detailed
comparative information about the trademark owner's products or
services in comparison to the competitive products and services
that were offered or promoted on the advertiser's site.

In order to more easily deliver quality user experiences when
users search on terms that are trademarks, Yahoo! Search Marketing
has determined that we will no longer allow bidding on keywords
containing competitor trademarks."
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Old 02-23-2006   #2
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Interesting, and not unexpected.

Trademark law is one of the 2 major sore points on any PPC system (click fraud being the other), and until the search engines, TM owners and courts figure out a commonly accepted group of guidlines it will continue to be. It's made worse in that there really isn't an international standard for how to handle conflicts of trademarks (which are local in nature) over the internet (which is international in nature).

As a marketer, this is disappointing. As a trademark holder, this is great news. The problem I see is in this conflict of interests.

Since being a Trademark holder is an actual legal status that you apply for, pay for and work towards, and being a marketer is just something anyone can do (albeit some do it very poorly), I think they are going in the right direction, though it obviously makes my job as a marketer harder.

As long as the playing field is level, I can deal with it.

My opinion,

Ian
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Old 02-23-2006   #3
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I just posted some comments to the blog on this, but I think this is the key part:

Quote:
Betcha I know what's prompted the move. Yahoo has been doing more and more work to attract big brand advertisers to link non-search campaigns back to search. The problem is, that means other competing brands can capitalize on this traffic. Mazda Taps Into Pontiac TV & Search Ads Again covers more about this. An easy way to stop your big brand advertisers you've partnered with from being walked over this way is to ban "comparison" ads linked to their campaigns.
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Old 02-23-2006   #4
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I like it

Personally I think its a REALLY good thing. I think it will benifit me greatly being I do well with organic searches. Also this will drive up the price for alternate "phrases" IMO
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Old 02-23-2006   #5
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Does their need to be a trademark-holder's whitelist?

We have several companies who bid on our trademarked product names. Some are competitors and chasing them out of the game is cool. But the majority of people who are bidding on these terms are resellers whom we are very happy to have spend their marketing dollars to promote our products.

So if "Programmer's Paradise" or "CDW" want to buy our trademarked terms, are they now going to be prohibited from doing so?

This is concerning.

EGM
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Old 02-23-2006   #6
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What if you're not a competitor? For example a travel agent who specializes in booking cruises. Bidding on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, or Disney Cruises wouldn't be a bad thing or hurt the company in any way.
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Old 02-23-2006   #7
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This is great News all around

I like the trend. However with the current majority of search market share going toward Google, it doesn't really matter for now.

Google doesn't seem to mind filtering SERPs for the Chinese Government. What's the holdup with Trademark Terms?
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Old 02-23-2006   #8
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Question Yahoo No Longer Allow Bidding On Trademarked Terms

What if you have nothing to do with the brand ? Take this recent example , google for "infosys" or search on Yahoo/MSN. It brings up a lawyers website who are filing a class action lawsuit against Infosys. They don't have a competing product nor do they sell anything related to Infosys.

If I were this company, I would be mad as hell. So I think "trademarks" need to be respected and there should be a mechanism to prevent misuse of such keywords IMHO.
rgd,s
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Old 02-23-2006   #9
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This is a sad decision for consumers, as the policy makes it harder for consumers to comparison shop.
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Old 02-23-2006   #10
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This news let me thinking on some points…
Is this including the BIG trademarks only?
What about real-estate brokers who use some well known names?
Is this affect local search?

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Old 02-23-2006   #11
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As I posted in another thread - Google has the same trademark policy OUTSIDE US & Canada, for quite a while now.

Quote:
AdWords Trademark Complaint Procedure – Trademark rights outside US and Canada
.....our review is limited to ensuring that the advertisements at issue are not using a term corresponding to the trademarked term in the ad content or as a keyword trigger.
http://www.google.com/tm_complaint_adwords.html#2

In the Google case - the trademark owner has to actually advise Google of the Trademark, in order for Google to prevent the trademark phrase being used as a ad trigger word/phrase.
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Old 02-23-2006   #12
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I sell brand x, y, z. I need to tell the world.

If I have a vendor relationship with brand x, y and z to sell their products in my online store, I should be able to create ppc ads that utilize the trade names of the products in question, just as we can in print or any other medium.

Most TM law is based on consumer confusion. I am not confusing the consumer. I really DO sell these products. I can't see how this policy will affect this kind of TM use.

S
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Old 02-23-2006   #13
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Hi everyone,

I've seen a few questions on this thread re: whether the trademark change would impact resellers, so I'm posting the text of our official guideline on advertising as a reseller (it has not changed):

"The advertiser's site must sell (or clearly facilitate the sale of) the product or service bearing the trademark. The advertiser's title and description must disclose that the consumer will be able to purchase the product or service. The advertiser's title and description should not be written in a way that creates the impression that the advertiser is an authorized reseller unless the trademark owner has in fact designated the advertiser as an authorized reseller. "

Hope this helps,

YahooSarah
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Old 02-23-2006   #14
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YahooSarah,

This doesn't seem like a new policy to me, then. Wasn't that always sort of the case?

And now, it will still be technically possible to advertise on these terms, if you are a reseller with some kind of status or can make the right kind of case to Yahoo?

Will this be phased in -- meaning, after the deadline date, will existing trademarked terms in accounts be cleaned out or disabled? Or will they be left running (grandfathered until such time as a complaint is received)?

It would be great if you could elaborate on these points.
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Old 02-23-2006   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcanerin

As a marketer, this is disappointing. As a trademark holder, this is great news. The problem I see is in this conflict of interests.

Since being a Trademark holder is an actual legal status that you apply for, pay for and work towards, and being a marketer is just something anyone can do (albeit some do it very poorly), I think they are going in the right direction, though it obviously makes my job as a marketer harder.

As long as the playing field is level, I can deal with it.

My opinion,

Ian
Shouldn't that have just started out with "as a marketer, this is disappointing," full stop?

I'm a marketer. So of course, I'm disappointed. Full stop.

Legitimate trademark complaints can be mediated through the courts, or Yahoo could facilitate them. To enact policies that go farther than the law seems lazy and possibly one-sided.

The response might be: "you wouldn't feel that way if you owned an important trademark." But I wouldn't ever "own an important trademark." Who would? Some of us may have the opportunity to own shares in companies with important trademarks, or work in management positions for those companies. Our investment and career decisions can be gauged by the normal standards one would use for gauging the strength of the company. You needn't feel that draconian enforcement of trademark law to the nth degree is a prerequisite for working in or owning a piece of the economy, surely? What's the flipside of feeling that way? Someone else's choices (maybe yours) get reduced.

I don't accept the premise that puts trademark holders on some kind of pedestal -- something that you "apply for, pay for, and work towards."

I suppose you could argue that Knighthood is like that, too. Or a Ph.D. Or having a peerage, like Lord Black of Crossharbour.

But I think this skirts the issue. That not all uses of trademark are illegal, and that in fact the law in the United States deals with trademark in a fairly consistent way that is meant to uphold free commercial speech and fair competition. Sort of like... letting the little guy have a chance, and protecting trademarks where it's shown that there is clear consumer confusion and business harm to the plaintiff.

Nowhere does the law force us to take sides and start talking about the specialness of trademark holders vs. the mediocrity of ordinary folks, like unaccredited marketers. Probably because the law in the United States has some respect for the rights of the ordinaries as they strive to get ahead.

Citizenship, incorporation, and the like are "actual legal statuses" too. If I'm not a walking trademark holder, it does not mean I don't have legal status.

Level playing field? This would be nice. I don't think that's what this is about, though. And I'm not sure that the rule won't will be bent, since Yahoo is typically inconsistent in enforcing its editorial policies.
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Old 02-23-2006   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by venks
What if you have nothing to do with the brand ? Take this recent example , google for "infosys" or search on Yahoo/MSN. It brings up a lawyers website who are filing a class action lawsuit against Infosys. They don't have a competing product nor do they sell anything related to Infosys.

If I were this company, I would be mad as hell. So I think "trademarks" need to be respected and there should be a mechanism to prevent misuse of such keywords IMHO.
rgd,s
Venks
Being mad as hell is a bad basis for an argument. In fact, it isn't one. It's just advertising, and there is no law against that.
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Old 02-23-2006   #17
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Where does this leave legal 'fair use' of trademarks, especially for the purposes of exposing fraud, consumer issues (such as faults), and otherwise legitimately and importantly discussing the trademarked term without being a seller promoter thereof?

Will Yahoo! news now follow its own policy and never again use a company trademark in its reporting? Because for sure there are clients I have who are publishers and often need to use trademarks (under legal fair use) in their headlines.

Will you make exceptions for government campaigns? I mean, if a trademarked drug were ever to repeat the thalidomide history, would you allow the Governemnt Public Information campaign to bid for the trademark?

Have you really thought this through?

There are very excellent reasons why the legal system (which has been running a fair bit longer than PPC has) decided that there had to be 'fair use' for trademarks. Are you truly certain this isn't an evil masquerading as a good thing?

Last edited by Black_Knight : 02-23-2006 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 02-23-2006   #18
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YahooSarah,

What about situations where the trademark is relevant to the offer, but the offer is non-competitive with the trademark? For example, can a tire seller target "tires for Fords"? Ford does not make tires. The tire seller sell tires that fit Fords.
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Old 02-23-2006   #19
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Hi Andrew,

To clarify, the change we're making on March 1 is to Condition #3 ("Competitive Comparison Site") in our trademark guideline. That condition will be removed when the new policy is officially implemented on March 1. The rest of our guidelines will remain the same.

If you want more information about our trademark guidelines, you can find additional detail on http://searchmarketing.yahoo.com/legal/trademarks.php.

YahooSarah

Last edited by YahooSarah : 02-23-2006 at 08:49 PM.
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Old 02-23-2006   #20
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Cline, Blackknight, Venks - doesn't this address your issues?

Quote:
In cases in which an advertiser has bid on a term that may be the trademark of another, Yahoo! Search Marketing allows the bids only if the advertiser presents content on its Web site that (a) refers to the trademark or its owner or related product in a permissible nominative manner without creating a likelihood of consumer confusion....... or (b) uses the term in a generic or merely descriptive manner.....
http://searchmarketing.yahoo.com/legal/trademarks.php
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