Google Trademark Policy Change: Advertising Trademarked Terms


Phil Black


One of the most frustrating things for Adwords advertisers is the dreaded Trademark Policy. Being unable to mention a key term in your adverts impacts the quality score, the likelihood that someone will click it, and the costs associated with bidding on that term. It makes creating cost effective ad groups as difficult as bathing a ferocious dog in the dark, whilst wearing boxing gloves. Worth the effort, but ultimately lacking in pleasure.

Google has responded to this and from September 14th, the rules are changing in the UK and across most of Europe. Advertisers will now be able to show trademarked terms for products that they sell or provide information on. Here’s how they break it down:


  • Adverts using the term in a descriptive or generic way, without referring to the goods and/or services provided by that advertiser – this is fairly ambiguous and could be difficult to judge on a case by case basis
  • Resellers – sites which sell the goods and/or services of the trademark owner. The website must clearly facilitate the sale of these.
  • Related sales – sites which sell products associated with the trademarked term. This includes spare parts, add-ons and other compatible products.
  • Information sites – these are sites which provide information on the trademarked terms. They must not facilitate the sale of rival goods and/or services for competitors of the trademark owner.

What Google is trying to do is make the ads more relevant by allowing genuine resellers and information sites to rank highly for trademarked terms.

What Google is not trying to do is make it easier for advertisers to steal conversions by tricking people onto their site through a trademark term which they have no association with.

Many trademark owners will be looking at this change in policy, and feeling extremely concerned. They will feel that this change is – much like the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century – fundamentally unacceptable.

Google have stated that they will not arbitrate in disputes between advertisers and trademark owners. The simple translation of this is “Take it outside and sort it out between yourselves”.

Therefore, prepare for several months of abrasive telephone calls and strategic battles fought in the sponsored links section of the World’s favourite search engine.

Good hunting.