Posted October 12, 2007 7:45 pm by with 12 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page is quite savvy online and has a large marketing budget. They protect their trademarked term too. So when campaign ads for Republican Senator Susan Collins used their trademarked name, they had the ads removed. Google told FOX News on Friday that it wasn’t politics, but their trademark bidding policy that was the issue. Google will pull ads (Google AdWords) on trademarked terms if the trademark owner complains.

Lance Dutson, the internet marketer for Collins campaign thinks Google is being unfair. He’s not arguing Google policy, he thinks his small advertising budget shouldn’t be shut down.

Fox quoted him as saying: “They (MoveOn) feel compelled to run nine television ads in the Maine market more than 12 months before the election, spending a million dollars attacking Sen. Collins, but when we seek to spend 50 to 75 cents on a Google ad to bring attention to this with MoveOn, they get the lawyers out and they come after it and shut it down,” Dutson said.

This is standard procedure with Google and it seems like Dutson thinks they should get a break anyway. Obviously, he’s not a fan of, a liberal political group whose whole purpose is to get democrats elected by raising money for their campaigns. Dutson bid on terms like Susan Collins, and used the word MoveOn in the ad copy.

Collins wanted people to know how to contribute to her cause – to fight MoveOn’s efforts to elect her opponent, Rep. Tom Allen, a democrat. She posted the rejected ads on her campaign blog. Now perhaps she should do a search engine optimized press release. It doesn’t seem she has much chance of winning against Google’s policies.

  • How is someone supposed to rebut a campaign ad without using the entity’s name you want to rebut? This is silencing its critics, not trademark infringement. Google is in the wrong here, and the more of this stuff they pull, the more they’re going to lose users.

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  • There is a loophole/flaw in the way Google enforces the trademark protection. You can use trademarked terms in the visible URL. We’ve had and lost this fight with Google on behalf of trademark owning clients. It makes no sense, but at least in the recent past it has been true.

    I’ve posted more details and an example ad I’m running right now to demonstrated at

  • I wonder if they’ve tried generic text like “move on” in the ad. 😉

    You can buy any keywords you want (at least in the U.S.). You just can’t use trademarked terms in the ad text. If that’s the real story here, then this is just silly.

  • I’m not a lawyer, but I thought owning the trademark was designed to prevent confusion or hijacking. It doesn’t actually give you the right to prevent someone from ever using the word. Unless the ads were trying to mislead the searcher into believing they were official MoveOn ads, Google has it wrong.

  • Janet,

    You might want to get your facts in order before weighing on this matter. You wrote “campaign ads for Republican Senator Susan Collins, infringed on their trademark, they had the ads removed”


    Not only did the ads not “infringe” on MoveOn’s copyright, MoveOn never asserted this. And Google has not made this claim in ANY of the four statements they have given so far.

    Instead, Google invoked THE GOOGLE TRADEMARK POLICY as the reason for removing the ads. Their policy is that a trademark owner can require that only the trademark owner can use or authorize the use of a trademark – in any form, for any reason.

    The law, however, is very different.

    Under trademark law, there is no right of a trademark holder to prevent the non-infringing nominative use of their name. Nor is there a right of a trademark holder to prevent “disparagement” of a trademark. There is no legal reason why Collins’ campaign could not run the ad. MoveOn took advantage of a flawed Google policy to suppress speech it did not like.

    Google has now provide FOUR different reasons for pulling the ad. When they finally settle on ONE answer we can then talk about the actual reason they pulled the ad but until then what we have here is a capricious invocation of baseless trademark claims being used by MoveOn to suppress political speech.

    The solution is simple: Google needs a new policy.

  • Janet Meiners

    You are correct, I changed my post. The ads violated Google’s trademark bidding policy and were removed. It was not copyright infringement as I’d stated.

  • I suspect that Google is growing too fast too soon. Its right hand does not know what its left hand is doing. Otherwise why should there be four different reasons for their action?

  • Janet,

    Google does not have a “trademark bidding policy” and so that was not the issue either.

    Your article is wrong on many points and misleading on others. I have submitted my email address with this comment. I invite you to send an email and set up a call so I can clear up the confusion.

  • Janet Meiners

    There is a Google trademark policy for AdWords. It’s often referred to as the trademark bidding policy.
    I have bid on trademarked terms – my competitors, which is ok. However, if the trademarked term is in the ad copy, and the trademark owner complains, Google can remove the ads. It’s my understanding that complained to Google and that is why the ads were discontinued.
    I know you’ve written about this issue. I’d be happy to discuss it further with you if you’d like.

  • I don’t see what is the problem with this case? If the Google says no that means no and we are just to little to fight them. We are even smaller if they have the rule in theor TOS…


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