Big Changes in Google’s AdWords Policy

We have previously written about the High Court’s decision in ACCC v Google. Following that decision, Google has made a number of changes to their AdWords policy – changes that may affect you and your trade marks and branding.

The ACCC and Google case was about a series of ads, where some businesses were using their competitor’s trade marks or branding in their Google AdWords advertising. A number of the ads were placed by a classifieds advertising business, who purchased AdWords for “honda.com.au”. The classifieds advertising business was not affiliated with Honda. Understandably, the court held that the classifieds advertising business had conducted misleading and deceptive conduct. The court also said that Google was not responsible for that conduct (even if they did facilitate the placing of that advertisement).

In short, Google will allow advertisers to purchase and use trade marks as keywords in Google Ads in places like Australia, China, and Hong Kong. Full particulars of the change in policy can be found on their website.

If one of your competitors has purchased AdWords containing your business name, your trade mark, or your branding, you may attempt the following:

  1. You may complain directly to Google, who may take action after the matter has been brought to their attention.
  2. You may take action directly against the advertiser.

In summary – following these changes to Google’s policies, it is more important than ever to keep an eye out for what your competitors are doing.