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SEO Trademark Research Can Protect Your Brand

By: Paul Bruemmer

Paul Bruemmer is founder of trademarkSEO. His distinguished career in Internet marketing began with the inception of the Internet. A prolific author, educator and Internet visionary, Paul pioneered the concept of search engine positioning before "search engine optimization" was part of the lexicon. His company provided search submission services to over 10,000 websites, including many of the most prominent names in American business.

In recent years, there have been many advertisers using competitor trademark names as keywords in paid search advertising, especially within search engine results pages as a result of Google AdWords and Overture's Precision Match. Therefore, it's possible for your competitors to drive substantial traffic to their web sites by virtue of your trademark name, using your reputation to attract visitors.

A fine example of this is the sticky situation with Google AdWords. In an excellent article titled "Google Adwords Under Further Trademark Scrutiny," Susan Kuchinskas of quoted Google thusly:
"As stated in our Terms and Conditions, advertisers are responsible for the keywords and ad text that they choose to use. We encourage trademark owners to resolve their disputes directly with our advertisers, particularly because the advertisers may have similar advertisements on other sites."
I can certainly understand Google's position. Can you imagine what would happen if it were forced to reverse its policy allowing advertisers to buy keywords containing trademark terms belonging to others? This would severely impact Google's revenue, and no doubt would require exhaustive efforts on their part to prevent such activities from occurring.

It's interesting to note that originally, Google AdWords did not sell trademarked keywords. However, it currently sells trademarked keywords in the U.S. and Canada (but not internationally) with the proviso that the trademark name can't be used in the ad copy itself.

The Best Defense is an Offense

Can you see where I'm going with this? It makes a lot of sense to hire an SEO vendor to help you locate your competitors and to research their search engine advertising activities. By having your legal department use the research data collected by your SEO vendor to protect your trademark and reputation, you are taking an invaluable step toward defending your future and ongoing business.

Most often, it'll be the smaller, "wannabe" companies riding on your coat tails by using your trademark for keywords in their advertising. These companies will generally avoid the threat of legal action upon receipt of a cease and desist letter. Not only are you protecting your name and reputation, you are crushing the competitors that you don't want representing your firm.

Building Your Marketing Network

Another benefit of mining this competitor data is to assist those whom you do want to succeed by using your trademark name. For instance, you may have affiliates, resellers, and a number of associates with whom you can negotiate on a recurring basis. These are the folks you trust with your trademark and reputation -- your friends and family marketing network. You want them to profit from your success.

Knowing who is using your trademark in keyword search advertising or in the body text of their web site has a directly positive effect on managing your brand, your trademark, and your reputation. Make sure your SEO vendor covers this critical marketing aspect for your online success.

A Word of Caution

It goes without saying that you don't want to use trademark names other than your own in keyword phrases. Profiting from the use of another company's trademark or brand without relevance or permission is unacceptable and could even result in legal action against you.

Reviewing the above information on trademark term research while interviewing SEO vendors will help you to identify those vendors who provide added value to your search engine marketing and optimization campaign.

© copyright 2005, Paul Bruemmer

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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