Google opens up trademark bidding

Search engine Google has raised the prospect of bidding wars for trademarked keywords as it relaxes its AdWords policy.

The company will no longer investigate accusations of trademark violation in 190 countries, extending a policy that previously applied only to the US, Canada, Ireland and the UK.

The rule change allows the highest bidder to appear in searches for any brand, regardless of whether it owns that brand or not. Lyndsay Menzies, chief operations officer at digital agency Bigmouthmedia, says the move could raise prices for trademarked keywords by as much as 500 per cent in the short term as large brands strive to protect themselves from competitors striving to piggy-back on their reputations.

However, he adds that when the same change was introduced in the UK last year, such high keyword prices proved unsustainable in the long run. ‘We would expect any spike in keyword prices to normalise within a matter of weeks,’ says Menzies.

The change does not apply to many European countries, including France, Italy, Germany and Spain. Other notable exceptions are Brazil, China and South Korea.

‘The news is likely to precipitate changes in some international markets as brands move budgets about within digital channels to maximise return,’ concludes Menzies.

Marc Barber

Raven Connelly

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.

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