Is Your Brand Protected?

How often do you search for your trademarked terms? This is something the PPC team at SEER is compulsive about. And we get angry when we see other advertisers using our clients’ trademarked terms.

The usual suspects are advertisers like eBay,, who seem to have recklessly dumped every word in the English language into an AdWords account, set them to broad match and paired them with a generic ad using dynamic keyword insertion.

Check out this query for the French dancewear company, Repetto.


Now, Repetto is not the best example because they do not actually sell shoes on their website. If they did, however, they would be foolish to allow retailers like Anthropoligie and Saks to capitalize on brand equity being built since the 1940’s.

If you’re going to advertise online, one of the first things you should do is protect your brand. Here is how it’s done:


Google doesn’t require you to wait until you catch someone using your trademarked term in their ad copy to file a complaint. All you have to do is register your trademark by filling out the Google AdWords Trademark Complaint Form. Just fill in your trademark details and indicate in the Clarifications Section that you do not want to allow other advertisers to use your trademarked terms in their ad copy. Viola!

It’s no big surprise that Yahoo, MSN and Ask do not have a simple and comprehensive one step process like Google’s. With these engines, you must report each violation separately, which means that you have to monitor your brand in order to find any violations to report. One tool that may make this process a bit easier is BrandVerity, which will monitor Google, Yahoo and MSN and alert you whenever your trademarked term appears in a sponsored listing.


In order to file a trademark complaint with Yahoo, you need the following information:

1. The search term which triggered the ad you are reporting
2. Trademarked term(s)
3. Trademark registration number
4. Description of evidence a violation occurred (sending a screenshot should suffice)
5. The status of your correspondence with the advertiser committing the violation, assuming you have contacted them.

You can submit this information via snail mail or e-mail them. More details here.


Reporting a trademark violation on MSN is similar to Yahoo’s process but the form is a bit more complicated. You’ll need to include the ad title, description and display URL of the advertiser using your trademarked term. And each individual violation must be filed separately. More details here.


Ask provides a Word doc that you must fill out and send back via snail mail or fax. You will need to enter much of the same details required by Yahoo and MSN. Everything you need to know can be found here.

In addition to ensuring that you are able to maintain control over brand messaging delivered to consumers, there are many more benefits to protecting and monitoring your brand in sponsored search listings. Just to name a few, being the only advertiser allowed to display your trademarked terms in ad copy should improve CTR and improve quality score, helping to lower CPCs. But the bottom line is that you’ve worked hard to develop your brand and you shouldn’t allow your competitors to benefit from brand equity you have worked hard to build!