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Google Trademark Policies Causing Headaches for Mac & iPod Advertisers

TMO Reports - Google Trademark Policies Causing Headaches for Mac & iPod Advertisers

by , 2:05 PM EDT, October 4th, 2005

Google recently began notifying various companies advertising Apple related products and services that specific ads are being blocked because of trademark violations. The notices have left many bewildered, considering that some of the ads have been online for months. TidBITS editor, Adam Engst, reported on his problems, which are only partially resolved.

Last week, Mr. Engst received an email from Google stating that some of his advertisements for TidBITS were denied because they contained words trademarked by Apple. In this case, one of their electronic books, "Take Control of Mac OS X Backups," included the word "Mac" in the copy of an ad, triggering the notice from Google.

The problem stems in part from AdWords, the keywords that advertisers use to show up in Google searches, Apple trying to control the inappropriate use of their trademarks, and the differences in U.S. and European Union trademark laws. In this case, Apple Europe requested that Google block advertisements from companies that are using its trademarked names. Google's more restrictive EU policies prohibit the use of trademark names in AdWords as well as the body of the advertisement, where as the U.S. policy is limited only to AdWords.

Mr. Engst noted that Apple's actions make little sense, stating that Mac related companies are "contributing to the vibrant economy that helps the Macintosh continue to be profitable for Apple - without software from independent developers and without Mac consultants, the Mac would quickly wither away."

The issue is muddled since Apple specifically allows for the use of Apple trademarked words when used in reference to related products or services. It's nearly impossible to advertise an iPod compatible product without using the word "iPod." The issue gets murkier since there doesn't seem to be a pattern to which Apple related companies are receiving notices from Google.

For now, the work around is to limit your Apple related advertisements to the United States, but that's not much of a consolation considering it blocks companies from advertising to a large segment of their potential market. For Apple, this also greatly reduces the number of businesses that can advertise Mac and iPod related products, potentially damaging its market share.

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