Home – New Forums Other discussions Your trademark being used by others in adverts or SEO to steal your clients?

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  • #994274
    Snakeman
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    Dear all,
    I don’t think there is much of a secret here as to what my registered trademarks are, as they include my user name/s ‘snakeman” or “snake man”. Without giving a long-version of our story, the problem I relate here is simple. We have trademark infringers taking out Google adverts triggered by searches for us by name, with their adverts using our trademarks in the advert copy and again on the landing pages, with the businesses openly masquerading as us or when coming clean to the fact they are not us, relying on initial interest confusion to steal our clients.
    My question is, are there any other owners of “words only” trademarks who have had infringers taking out Google adverts triggered by searches for their trademark/brand to steal their clients, and what have they done to stop it?

    #1195842
    Tiggerito
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    AdWords will stop people using trademarks in the copy of ads. You may want to ensure you have your trademark claimed with them so only you can use it in adverts.

    But you can’t really stop people advertising on searches for your name. The only case I’ve seen this happen is when a supplier stopped dealers advertise on treat they would cut them off.

    For using your name on the website. That’s probably going into legal stuff.

    #1195843
    Snakeman
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    “AdWords will stop people using trademarks in the copy of ads.” – that was the case until about 18 months back. Now Google refuses to do even that (yes we have been to them many times!) – hence our imitators shamelessly using our registered trademarks in their adverts – lets be blunt – it is straight out theft of a brand built up over 40 years.
    (and the ads still running this morning!)
    For what it is worth the trademark thieves are the same group that convinced their mates in the government to shut us down at gunpoint a few years back and they traded on the fact we were holed up in life-or-death litigation until late last year (which we won at huge cost).
    Returning to my main question – has any other trademark owner had issues with thieves taking out adverts triggered by searches for their trademarks and what have they done to successfully stop it?
    Thanks

    #1195844
    PRO
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    There was a court case a while back that outlined that using your competitor’s trademark in an adwords or google search term is not an infringement.

    We are targeted aggressively and hence have to target aggressively

    #1195845
    JacquiPryor
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    Raymond – as you are no doubt quite aware, but posting as food for thought for others – there are issues in claiming that use of your ‘trademark’ in a Google ad or in set of key words etc actually constitutes infringement. The Act is reasonably clear on when a trademark is actually infringed, so there will always be loop holes that people find in order to avoid exactly that (be it on or offline). However, promoting a name “as a trademark” at an actual website that is the same/deceptively similar to a registered trademark may very well be an infringement. Further, noting each case is obviously different and needs to be reviewed on its own basis, there can be other areas of law that come into the picture to protect a person/business even if trademark infringement has been avoided – for example, the issue of ‘passing off’ and also considerations under the Australian Consumer Law that prohibits engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct.

    As an aside – when I search on your trademark (Google, Australia) today, I’m finding only your websites and not those of competitors.

    #1195846
    Snakeman
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    To both of the above posters thanks for your responses.
    In terms of the referred to court cases, re adwords in Australia, they were different circumstances to what we face. One was a company that asserted a common law trademark for their brand but did not own a registered trademark. They wanted the rival to promote them on their website.
    The other one involved a logo trademark, not a word. The other one was ACCC, versus Google and others and the case was a balls up and Google got off on a technicality because the prosecution failed to argue relevant matters. The infringers paid.
    Since that case, Google has relied on the “telephone line’ defence, as in “you make threat to kill over phone, phone company not guilty”.
    In our case however, Google are aware of the infringements and prefers to take adwords money to allow the infringing and passing off to continue. In case I hadn’t mentioned it already, we own words trademarks, the ads are triggered by searches for the trademarks (same kind of business), the ads carry the trademarks in the ad copy and the landing page also uses the trademarks in clear and obvious usage and “passing off”.
    The infringers have been sent cease and desist letters and the only reason we haven’t sued to date is because we have been sidetracked with the more serious government litigation (which we eventually won), which involved rival businesses, including the government regulator ganging up on us and fabricating no less than 36 criminal charges (all of which we beat) as a bogus pretext to shut our successful business down (so they could steal all our clients).
    Knowing we were tied up in the litigation, the infringers have continued infringing knowing I could not afford to take them on (being weakened by the government litigation) and also time diverted as well.
    By the way, Google ads for our trademarks seem to come up mostly in certain geographical areas and times of day. The infringers are smart and block IP addresses, geotarget and the like, meaning that what does not show up on my computer, does on another down the road. Also of relevance here is the case of Ryanair versus Edreams, which has gone through several courts in Europe and consistently gone the way of Ryanair, a case which most closely parallels ours in many ways.
    Significantly, Ryanair has taken on Google and Edreams in terms of the Google adverts in the Irish High Court and the results of this case could be of benefit to rights owners such as myself in similar English-law type countries.
    What I am fishing for here, is what others have done to stop the infringers and with most success and least effort.
    (And also in light of the Ryanair case being fast-tracked, we are of the view to wait and see the result of that before deciding whether or not to start issuing writs here in Australia against the infringers).
    All the best
    Raymond Hoser

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