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  1. #1
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    Trademarked terms in AdWords
    I advertise a lot of official Major League Baseball team merchandise, which I've been doing successfully through AdWords for the past year.

    Recently I tried to make a minor edit to the text of one of my ads. My revised ad was rejected for using trademarked terms - "Boston Red Sox" and "MLB". These terms had been in the ad that was already in use, but I couldn't submit a new ad using these terms and my old ad is no longer accepted for use since I attempted to edit it. I have other ads using MLB and other team names which are continuing to be used without any problems (I haven't attempted to edit them).

    So it seems as if previously submitted ads are grandfathered, or maybe Google just hasn't cleaned them up yet, but new or edited ads cannot use these terms.

    Google sent me an e-mail saying that "Boston Red Sox" was a trademarked term that I couldn't use. I replaced it with "BoSox". That worked for a few weeks. Then I got another e-mail that "BoSox" couldn't be used and it suggested that I use "Boston Sox". So I tried "Boston Sox" but it was instantly rejected, saying that "Sox" is a trademarked term! Now I'm stuck with "Boston baseball team".

    Has anyone else run into a similar issue? I find it difficult to believe that no one but MLB or the team itself could legally use a team name in advertising. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Newbie dtrenck's Avatar
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    Some of the professional teams (and it's not just restricted to MLB) are rather protective of their marks. I had a similar problem trying to use Boston Celtics awhile back in Adwords.

    - Dave

  3. #3
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    I also noticed that the MLB lawyers have recently gone on a trademark protection frenzy. All MLB names were fine 2 months ago. Google now even rejects "The Twins" as a trademarked term.

  4. #4
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    I heard they want to do the same thing with Ebay.

  5. #5
    Member jrb16915's Avatar
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    maybe "The Twins" is a Coors beer trademark.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yogi
    I also noticed that the MLB lawyers have recently gone on a trademark protection frenzy. All MLB names were fine 2 months ago. Google now even rejects "The Twins" as a trademarked term.
    That shouldn't be a protected term. I have twins... so I can't advertise a website about my children?

    I really don't get this whole trademark thing. I refer a lot of sales to MLB.com. They could be hurting themselves by cracking down on this.

  7. #7
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garyse
    Recently I tried to make a minor edit to the text of one of my ads. My revised ad was rejected ... and my old ad is no longer accepted for use since I attempted to edit it.
    Never, never, never edit ads on AdWords. Always create a new one. After a few days (assuming the new one is running and is performing better than the old one), delete the old one. I think most of us had to learn that one the hard way.
    Michael Coley
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    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  8. #8
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    Absurd Google trademark filters
    [ Gripe ]

    Today I checked some "famous literature" ads that I thought had been running for months, and discovered that the ads aren't running because they triggered more absurd Google filters.

    About a dozen ads were blocked because Google thought they might be related to pharmaceutical products. I understood how a reference to a musical "sonata" triggered the filter for the sleep-aid drug with that name. However, in most of the ads I could not identify ANY trigger -- perhaps this means I've lost touch with current slang.

    About a dozen more triggered Google's gambling filters, for book titles that included "Poker" or "Bingo" (these are famous literature titles, not "how to" books).

    And then, of course, the absurd trademark filters took up most of my time this morning.

    Some of the "disabled" ads referred to famous authors, like children's author Scott O'Dell and science-fiction writer Andre Norton. I suppose I can understand why "Dell" or "Norton" (e.g. Peter Norton, the Symantec brand) triggered the filters. But I think Google should make a modest effort to not trigger the "Dell" filter when someone uses "O'Dell" in an ad, and by now Google should have set up sub-filters to recognize the inapplicability of the "Norton" filter when "Andre Norton" is named.

    But the male authors were lucky: again and again, ads referring to books by female authors were disabled because Google's filters appear to include many of the most common female first names in the USA, including Amy, Emma, Laura, Laurie, Lori, Kay . . . and I stopped writing them down then.

    I also understood why "Odyssey" (referring to the 2,500-year-old epic poem by Homer) triggered a filter for Honda's minivan, but I couldn't understand why "Origin" (as in Darwin's "Origin of Species") would trigger a filter.

    I spent 90 minutes submitting "exception requests," and my experience is that about 99% the exception requests are approved, but then over the next few months about a third of the same ads will get filtered and disabled again.

    [ / Gripe ]
    Last edited by markwelch; February 15th, 2007 at 01:22 PM.

  9. #9
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    Never, never, never edit ads on AdWords. Always create a new one. After a few days (assuming the new one is running and is performing better than the old one), delete the old one. I think most of us had to learn that one the hard way.
    Concur with that!

  10. #10
    Affiliate Manager cbsturg's Avatar
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    While I agree with the principle that companies have a right to protect their trademarks, I don't completely see why that should limit anyone's right to use such terms in ad copy. It seems to run contrary to 1st Amendment rights, in my estimation. If your selling illegal copies of baseball games, or unofficial jerseys that contain the team logo, that's one thing. But how can they prohibit anyone from using a term in the copy? Can I not write an advertisement for or against any certain company?

    Take a look at comparison advertising on the TV (Subway comparing calories with McDonald's for example). If you haven't entered into a legal contract with a company to not bid on exclusive terms (ala most affiliate agreements), on what ground can they prohibit certain terms from appearing in PPC ad copy?

    If it's Google not wanting certain kinds of ads appearing on their network, that's one thing. But that's obviously not the case. If anyone can explain this to me, I'd be grateful.
    Chris Sturgill
    "All my life I've had one dream, to achieve my many goals." - H. Simpson

  11. #11
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    G wants more bidders. More bidders drives auction prices higher. Legal issues have to be respected in each country, in the US, you can bid on a competitors trademark, but when steps have been taken to protect it, it can't show in your ad. While advertisers do have rights, so do property owners. And a trademark is essentially akin to property when it comes to ownership. Their are laws governing it in our country and G has pushed to the edge of those laws in my opinion. Other search engines are more restrictive, like Yahoo. So while it's not ideal for us as affiliates, it's likely a reasonable balance when all parties rights, including the best interests of the consumer, are considered in the aggregate.

  12. #12
    Affiliate Manager cbsturg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    While advertisers do have rights, so do property owners. And a trademark is essentially akin to property when it comes to ownership.
    Agreed. But how can a company legally keep me from posting an advertisement that reads something to the effect of "Why I hate the Yankees" or "Why you shouldn't eat McMuffins", etc. Ownership refers to property, but references are properties.

    That said, I do believe that companies should be proactive about people who pretend to represent a company, or that sell unauthorized versions of a trademarked product, or that call themselves by names that are too easily mistaken for one that's trademarked ("try my MkMuffin"). But how can they keep resellers from telling people what it is they're selling? It doesn't make any sense to me how it can be illegal to have an ad that says, "We sell Boston Red Sox Paraphernalia." What have you done to the trademark? Have you put yourself out to be the Boston Red Sox organization (can I use that name here, or do I have to refer to them as the "main baseball team associated with the city of Boston who was at one time under the curse of the Bambino but who just recently overcame that curse to beat the despised team from the state of New York which northern team's trademarked name is in reference to the northern faction of the American Civil War")?

    I don't know that such would fit in the space alloted by Google.
    Chris Sturgill
    "All my life I've had one dream, to achieve my many goals." - H. Simpson

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