Today, as Google has become synonymous with the Internet itself, advertising on Google Ads has become the preferred tool for increasing sales. However, there are many hidden legal aspects of using Google Ads as your primary lead generation source. Although there have been many controversies regarding Google Ads software in the recent past, claiming that it is monopolistic or discriminatory towards businesses, in a recent case, Google Ads has been accused of being an infringing medium. Bearing the corporate brand.
In the recent incident, it was found that in the fight to become the “most searched website” or to attract the most users, brands have used illegal and anti-competitive practices on Google ads. It’s something that even the internet giant failed to fix before the battle reached court.
It has been proven over the years that brands should avoid competitors’ trademarks or other distinctive marks to avoid any kind of legal action. Google Ads strictly prohibits the use of these marks by other companies as it may cause confusion as to the original source of the business, hindering competitors’ growth and allowing the advertiser to use the competitor’s mark and reputation to their advantage.
Generally, in response to trademark complaints, Google Ads restricts the use of trademarks in ad text. Only authorized sellers, news sites, related organizations and advertisers are allowed to use the Trademarks, and this also only if necessary.
In fact, to ensure that the platform is only promoting legitimate ads, Google states that one can use Google’s own tool to submit trademark registrations which also ensures that no one is allowed to copy the trademark of its owner, thus protecting potential lawsuits and allegations of infringement.
The most recent example of this problem is MakeMyTrip vs Booking.com Trademark infringement case.
In this case, it was said that whenever a user searches for “MakeMyTrip” on Google, the first link shown is www.booking.com.
Upon review, it turns out that the latter has used the MakeMyTrip trademark to promote its own Google ads. With MakeMyTrip’s prominent presence in the Indian travel booking space, Booking.com, a Dutch online travel company has tried to quickly and easily gain prominence in the country’s travel ecosystem.
As a result, a lawsuit has been filed under which Booking.com is now barred from using the “MakeMyTrip” trademark as a keyword in Google Ads until another hearing. This not only puts financial pressure on Booking.com to get out of the lawsuit, but also damages the company’s reputation in the marketplace. This case is sure to set a strong precedent and will prevent other companies from using the trademarks or trade names of their “more popular” counterparts to get users’ attention.
Protecting your trademark is only one aspect of protecting your trademark from a lawsuit in Google Ads. Due to the volume of business transactions and purchases made on Google, Google has developed very strict advertising policies, covering four main areas, which, if not followed, can be brought to the fore again through legal action. Reviews: Prohibited content (ranging from selling counterfeit products to illegal activities such as hacking devices), Prohibited practices
1) Prohibited Content: Google is not allowed to promote the sale of counterfeit products of any product that may cause harm, harm or injury to users. Google bans companies from advertising any kind of fraudulent or illegal activities like hacking devices or any inappropriate content focused on infringement, discrimination, etc. Google reserves the right to block or remove content or ads that contain what it considers “Prohibited Content”.
2) Prohibited practices: Google Ads does not allow advertising of content that offends the ad network, such as masking the final destination. If in any way the advertiser tries to block the personal data of the user or actually tries to collect irresponsible data such as credit card information, sexual orientation, etc. In their advertising content, is subject to a fine.
3) Restricted content and functionality: This category covers content that may sometimes be considered sensitive. By using age filters, Google tries to provide a safe advertising experience for all users. Any content related to alcohol, sex, gambling, politics, healthcare, drugs, financial services, and other prohibited businesses is reviewed multiple times before it is waived. Married to promote in certain areas and groups only.
4) Editorial and Technical: Ads that are clear, relevant, readable, interactive and professional looking are the only ones to consider. Any ad that does not meet the user’s destination requirements are also removed from the list. Google makes sure that any user who clicks on an ad has a specific destination to go so they don’t get stuck in harm’s way.
As the famous saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility,” Google has a great responsibility to protect the millions of transactions that pass through it daily. In the recent past, Google realized that it could be held responsible for how its users advertise their products on the platform, even if they were just an “intermediary platform”. This awareness has certainly made a huge impact on the online advertising scenario on Google and thus has a decisive impact on both the user/customer and business interests.
It’s essential for advertisers to note that while Google ads can be a very resourceful way to promote your brand, violating their rules can lead to months of court hearings and legal action. Therefore, an informed and informed decision is surely worth it before planning to invest capital in promoting your product.
(The author is a Managing Partner, Verum Legal)
05 June 2022