Is Your Trademarked Brand Working Against You?

It's something you may not think much about, but protecting your trademark could help protect your business. Find out how Google AdWords helps you do just that.
November 03, 2014

Do you regularly perform Google searches of your trademarked brand or URL? If you do, you should expect to see your website at or near the top of the results list. If ads for other brands are superseding yours, however, you could be the victim of trademark bidding by your competitors.

Trademark bidding occurs when other brands bid for keywords (including your own company’s trademark) in Google AdWords. When individuals search for these keywords, these interlopers’ ads show up above the organic search results, which encourages searchers to click on them first.

While such practices aren’t illegal in the U.S., they are regarded as a dishonest marketing tactic. Unfortunately, recent court cases regarding trademark bidding haven’t held up well in court and have cost companies unnecessary legal fees and a loss of productivity.

If you encounter trademark bidding, what’s your company to do about it? Many methods exist for fighting this underhanded strategy, but the most effective is self-bidding, wherein you leverage AdWords to overcome your competitors' maneuvers and increase traffic to your website.

Fighting Back

According to, creating and maintaining your own AdWords campaign with the help of a trademark lawyer is an ideal way to overcome bidding issues. Potential outcomes include the following four:

Outranking your competitors. AdWords ranks search results based on various criteria, including the amount of the bid and the relevance of the website. If your site’s content most closely matches the search terms you employ in your campaign, your ads will be more likely to appear at the top, which reduces the value of your competitors’ campaigns. Over time, this can inspire trademark bidders to search for new—and easier—targets.

Promoting your website. Beyond staving off your competitors, a well-planned and well-executed AdWords campaign carries out its primary purpose: targeting and attracting your desired markets. Google offers various elements you can use to direct your campaign, such as geographical location, time of day and the types of devices on which users access the Internet.

Leveraging your trademark. For trademarked businesses, the advantages of bidding become even more pronounced. Google automatically identifies trademarked sites as more relevant and places them higher in search results. This tends to increase the ROI for each of your marketing campaigns.

Achieving high ROI. Pay-per-click campaigns such as AdWords often deliver considerably better returns than other types of advertisements. This is because advertisers pay only when searchers click on their links and visit their websites. In addition, Google allows users to set a predetermined amount for each campaign, so the ads continue as long as the project remains within the specified budget.

Trademarking Tips

As a startup business, one of the most valuable actions you can take is to establish a trademark. Although many companies neglect this step until they've been established for some time, doing so early in the game can mitigate the effects of such practices as trademark bidding.

Among the many benefits of trademarking your new business, the most compelling include:

  • Documentation of legal rights. A trademark sets forth your legal rights in writing.
  • Protection against other businesses. If a competitor or other business attempts to use your name or logo (or a similar approximation of either), a trademark helps back up a cease and desist order.
  • Establishment of identity. Once a business has obtained a trademark, it retains a distinctive identity that no other brand can copy.
  • Monetary value. Owners of trademark registrations may license or sell them.

As you seek to establish a trademark for your startup firm, make sure to perform due diligence by taking these four steps:

1. Utilize business identity protection techniques. Individuals aren't the only ones who can fall victim to identity theft--businesses can, too. To protect your name, assets and other crucial components of your business, guard your credit card, financial information and other critical information with care.

2. Provide proof of applicable rights. Whether your business exists as a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation or other entity, retain all legal paperwork related to the company in case of future disputes.

3. Perform market research. Study the market extensively to ensure your company or product is unique enough to qualify for a trademark. Avoid attempts to trademark something very similar to an existing item, because these requests are almost always rejected.

4. Hire a trademark lawyer. An attorney with expertise in trademark law can help you navigate the complex process of seeking, obtaining and enforcing a trademark. Nearly 80 percent of all trademarks are rejected upon first submission--a legal professional understands the myriad challenges and obstacles you'll face and can help you successfully navigate through the system.

As a small-business owner, you're probably using every tool you can think of to increase your visibility and outpace your competitors. A trademark not only offers legal protection, it gives you an advantage against companies that will attempt to appropriate your audience through trademark bidding.

By combining a rock-solid trademark with a carefully crafted Google AdWords campaign, you should soon see significant benefits from your marketing efforts.

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