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  1. #1
    Full Member Code Monkey's Avatar
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    Ethical Trademark Bidding?
    So I used to be affiliated with a merchant at CJ. The merchant dropped me (along with a lot of other affiliates).

    Can I now bid on that merchant's trademark for PPC?

    #1 Can a merchant LEGALLY stop me from trademark bidding?

    #2 Can CJ put pressure on me to not bid on a trademark of one of their merchants, even though I no longer have a relationship with that merchant?

    Thanks
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  2. #2
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    I don't think so as long as the ad isn't deceptful. Coke can use Pepsi in their ads, Drano can use Liquid Plumbr in their ads etc. So you have stuff like that. Then you have times where the merchant is the product and as a real example, Ugg Australia stopped allowing TM bidding, but most shoe merchants out there carry Uggs. So you can still bid on that and send the traffic to them.

  3. #3
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    However, there's a big difference between your thread title and your question:

    Is it legal? Yes.

    Is it ethical? Depends who you ask.

    Merchants, especially those with powerful brands, can ask Google to not allow it, as well. Do a search for Wal-Mart or Target, and see who's bidding.
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  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager Heather@Stacks's Avatar
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    Sure you can legally bid on the trademark now. You just segueway from an affiliate bound by the merchant's terms to a competitor who is not.

    Not sure how long the party will last, though.
    When I have this happen, one call to my Google rep
    and the ads are removed and blocked within a hour or two.
    No lawyers necessary.

    Is it right? Well, I obviously never feel it is when the brand in question is one
    I manage.

    I have no idea if CJ could/would pressure you. Suppose it would
    depend on how outraged the merchant is.

  5. #5
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin
    Is it legal? Yes.

    Is it ethical? Depends who you ask.
    One more... is it effective?

    Since the name of the merchant will almost universally be blocked from appearing in your ad, and since people are searching for that merchant by name, you're very likely not going to get many clicks at all.

    The low CTR will hurt your ad group and campaign, making it expensive to try to snipe traffic in this manner. Low CTRs almost affect your entire AdWords account history and make your other efforts more expensive.

    So I suggest you focus elsewhere for this reason alone, though the ethics question is certainly a legitimate discussion (where I happen to side strongly with the "it's unethical" answer).

  6. #6
    Full Member TerriFalcone's Avatar
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    What would be your purpose in bidding on that merchants trademark?
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  7. #7
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    Well all this depends on what merchant he is talking about in the first place. If it's an Ugg Australia type situation where other merchants sell that product, it's ethical, CTR would be fine etc. So we don't exactly have enough information on this one.

  8. #8
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    If it's an Ugg Australia type situation where other merchants sell that product, it's ethical, CTR would be fine etc.
    I disagree, so if you do it, hope you share general info on your relative CTR and position (you have baseline data from what you were doing before).

    CTR is measured in a relative sense and someone looking for UGG, by name, has a low propensity to click on other brands and certainly an unrecognized affiliate site. A comparison shopping site has the potential to attract consumers (though your ad won't say UGG, so it'll be tough to get clicks), but G has devalued these on brand name searches and you've also got to deal with relative quality scoring for others employing similar tactics (against mega shopping comparison sites as well and they have many things your site won't have).

  9. #9
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    You disagree on what exactly? Are you talking the ethical part or CTR.

    If CTR, if somebody searches for Ugg Australia boots and there are alot of shoe merchants that sell them and you have a good ad, why wouldn't the CTR be fine. I'm thinking as an affiliate and you had an ad with deals and coupons for Ugg Australia and you had a landing page that had that.

    Somebody searches for Ugg Australia Boots and sees:

    Ugg Australia Deals
    Current deals and coupons
    for Ugg Australia Boots.
    somesite.com

    CTR is fine.

    "A comparison shopping site has the potential to attract consumers (though your ad won't say UGG, so it'll be tough to get clicks),"

    Why wouldn't it say Ugg?

    http://www.google.com/search?sourcei...230US230&q=ugg

    Like I said, lots of merchants sell them, you can bid on it.
    Last edited by Trust; January 16th, 2009 at 04:06 PM.

  10. #10
    Member KirkMcD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heather@Stacks
    When I have this happen, one call to my Google rep
    and the ads are removed and blocked within a hour or two.
    No lawyers necessary.
    Isn't this only true if the ad displayed the trademark term and wasn't just bidding on the term (in the US)?

  11. #11
    Affiliate Manager Heather@Stacks's Avatar
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    That is true Kirk. That was the instance I was citing, I should have been more specific.

  12. #12
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    You disagree on what exactly? Are you talking the ethical part or CTR.
    The CTR part, which is what I discussed there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    If CTR, if somebody searches for Ugg Australia boots and there are alot of shoe merchants that sell them and you have a good ad, why wouldn't the CTR be fine. I'm thinking as an affiliate and you had an ad with deals and coupons for Ugg Australia and you had a landing page that had that.

    Somebody searches for Ugg Australia Boots and sees:

    Ugg Australia Deals
    Current deals and coupons
    for Ugg Australia Boots.
    somesite.com

    CTR is fine.

    "A comparison shopping site has the potential to attract consumers (though your ad won't say UGG, so it'll be tough to get clicks),"

    Why wouldn't it say Ugg?

    http://www.google.com/search?sourcei...230US230&q=ugg

    Like I said, lots of merchants sell them, you can bid on it.
    We're both assuming too much about what this poster is going to do, to have clarity of discussion here. What I was thinking / guessing is that he/she would be bidding to show a competitor to UGG's, using the UGG name. That would have a low CTR and certainly UGGs would move to block them from using the UGG name (your g search shows all people selling UGGs, all have carts, no affs - likely are authorized to use their name, and no affs there in the bid pool, on first page anyhow). Some of the instances / keywords that you gave Trust, may indeed have CTRs that are fine. In my example's mindset, the margins that affiliates have means that conquesting campaigns like this rarely work to make a profit. Further, the merchant often doesn't want to have their affiliates impinge on their competitors brand name - so if you do this, regardless of what the specifics are (even Trust's guess at what you're doing, a competitor or dealer that also sells UGGs), make sure your merchant has approved this method for your use beforehand.

  13. #13
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    I had an affiliate ask me about bidding on trademarks and if it was ethical. He was encouraged by a fellow affiliate to just do it! I told him to simply email the AM and state what he was doing. He could continue but stood to lose commissions if they objected and reversed his commissions but he would be doing it with a clear conscience. He chose to be ethical and stopped the practice.

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