One of the big issues that retailers who use search engine marketing wrestle with is who has the right to use the retailer’s brand. For retailers who are keeping a close eye on that, search engine marketing company Oneupweb has released a trademark infringement monitoring tool.
The tool can’t stop trademark infringement, but it can gather evidence of infringement so a retail can persuade the search engines to force offending companies to halt the use of trademark material. “It’s the retailer’s responsibility as the owner of the trademark to monitor possible infringement activity,” says Lisa Wehr, president of Oneupweb.
The retailer enters into the trademark protection tool the trademarks it wants to monitor. The tool then keeps an eye on what’s happening on the search engines. When an infringement happens, it takes a snapshot of the offending page, archives the data for later retrieval, and sends an e-mail alert to the retailer.
The retailer can present the data to Yahoo/Overture, Google and MSN so they can take steps to halt infringements. The data can also be evidence in court if the case gets that far, Wehr says.
“Companies work hard to create strong, well-known brands with great reputations,” Wehr says. “Consumers use these brand names as keywords on search engines like Google, Yahoo or MSN, hoping to research or buy those brands. By purchasing pay-per-click ads triggered by brand names, a competitor can siphon traffic and steal brand awareness.”
Oneupweb identifies three levels of trademark poaching: - An ad is purchased to trigger on another brand`s trademark. There`s no mention of the brand in the ad, but the poacher is trying to take advantage of the marketing done by the brand. - The trademark is used in the text of someone else`s ad. Oneupweb says this is one of the few times that some search engines will step in on behalf of the brand as this violates engines’ terms of service. - A combination of both tactics is used to create confusion among consumers, leading them to believe that the competitor is actually the brand sought.
“Some marketers are waiting for pending court cases to set a legal precedent, forcing the search engines to monitor the activity,” says Wehr. “Using ROI trax’s trademark infringement tool to collect evidence of the activity, these same marketers could stop the theft with a simple ‘cease and desist’ letter.”
She adds that courts have yet to decide such trademark infringement cases, but that retailers should protect their brands, nonetheless. “If you won’t defend your trademark, it cold become a serious issue down the road,” Wehr says.