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  1. #1
    Full Member Code Monkey's Avatar
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    Trademark Bidding?
    I'm not asking this as an affiliate. I'm asking legally.

    Is it ok to bid on "Ford" or "Ford.com", and put up an ad that says "10 Reasons Not To Buy a Ford"?

    I'm not a Ford affiliate..

    Is this legal?

    No, I don't hate Ford, just using them as an example..

  2. #2
    Outsourced Program Manager Stephanie Harris's Avatar
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    I'm obviously not a lawyer but I would think it is legal to bid on the terms and to put up a 10 reasons not to buy Ford. They of course would probably contact you if it became too visible and ask you to cease and desist due to tarnishing their name, but I wonder if they could really stop you.

    Technically it's free speech so you can definitely have the article, and Ford is a brand name in the public's eye. It is a good question.
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  3. #3
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    Chevy does it all the time

  4. #4
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Code Monkey
    Is it ok to bid on "Ford" or "Ford.com", and put up an ad that says "10 Reasons Not To Buy a Ford"?
    Ahh, I think I know where you're going with this based on your other thread. If my guess is right you would like to bid on the name of the merchant that reversed your commission and trash them. Once you drop their program they can no longer dictate any terms to you, including any restrictions on bidding their TM.

    However, might I suggest that you just find their nearest competitor and promote the hell out of them as opposed to trashing this merchant. It may make you feel better to out them as the scum that they are, however it will likely do little to help you make money. Besides that, you don't need to lower yourself to their level.

    Post their name in the other thread so the rest of us will know to avoid them and hopefully they'll get the hint that their way of doing business just isn't acceptable and won't be tolerated anymore.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  5. #5
    Affiliate Manager PaulS's Avatar
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    Legally, if the ad/page you are writing is considered a "critical evaluation", it could fall under the Fair Usage part of trademark law... which means you are allowed to use the trademark for the purposes of - for example - a review of the product.

    However, be very careful that the "Top 10 Reasons" you list are valid and verifiable, as you could run into issues about damaging the trademark if you don't list factual or provable facts.

    Even if you can prove what's being written, Ford - or whatever company you target - may issue a cease and desist order to try to make you stop, which you could possibly fight, if you wanted to get into the legal issues.

    There does seem to be a difference between using trademarks to bid on (some PPCs will allow it, others have fairly strict guidelines... and the law has yet to make an absolutely "final" decision regarding the matter) and using trademarked terms within the title or copy of the ad itself... which might be a stickier issue.

    I'm not sure if that helps, but it's a very sticky issue and one that has not - in my opinion - been fully resolved.

    Paul

  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager PaulS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rematt
    Ahh, I think I know where you're going with this based on your other thread. If my guess is right you would like to bid on the name of the merchant that reversed your commission and trash them.
    I didn't even make that connection....

    I agree with the above poster, if this is what you're referring to, it's a dangerous slide as your Top 10 reasons could get you into trouble, even if the ad didn't.

    Besides, as much as they might have annoyed you right now, do you really want to spend the money on this rather than investing in and growing their competitors?? Seems to me that the latter would be the better revenge.

    Paul

  7. #7
    Full Member Code Monkey's Avatar
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    My curiosity about bidding on "ford.com" has nothing to do with the issue I have in the other thread (a merchant reversing a transaction based on missing referral URL information).

    I've been curious about this for a while and can think of a dozen ways to make money off it.. But, there must be a reason that it's not being done..

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador
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    I see people bidding on those terms but those terms probably cost some $$, not the cheapest keywords I would imagine so it could be some people in the past have but they weren't making any money so they stopped.

  9. #9
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    We had an affiliate bid on "Don't try BRAND until you read this" then it was a DVD for the service. It was his highest producing ad and the brand had us tell him to remove it. Its a reverse marketing technique.

    I have no problem with an affiliate doing negative advertising against a competitor as long as they are not breaking any laws. When we have competitors doing that on brands we run programs for we use it to get them (merchant) to loosen up on affiliates. Then the affiliates can compete with the competitors (and their affiliates) to drive them off the paid search ads. We call it "Affiliate Scorched Earth"!

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador Sheri's Avatar
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    It will depend on the merchant. So many "restrict" the use of their brand without actually having it trademarked. If it is, in fact trademarked, then they can come after you pretty hard if they want to.

    The search engines have pretty much stepped out of the fray. The major ones have changed their terms to state that they will not get involved in the dispute. So it will depend on how big of a stink you are making as to whether or not any company would invest the time and money to come after you.

    Sheri

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