Trademark Violations?


MattCarter08

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Hi we have a client who is wondering whether we can stop particular dealers from ranking for keywords related to the brand. For example if you look up the keyword term - BMW Dealers (see screenshots below)

The dealers appear, however down the bottom there are 3 (circled red below) which are not BMW dealers. My client is wondering if we can request Google to stop adding these to the search results for the keyword 'BMW dealer'? (e.g. trademark violations)

Is there any official statement from Google i can send the client, to say they can't do anything.

Has anyone has dealt with a situation like this before. What would be a good solution?



 

Linda Buquet

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Have you checked the sites to see where the words BMW Dealer are listed?

If the words are in title tags or description there could be a Trademark case possibly but if not, I don't think there's much that could be done. If I was down the street in an automall and was a Toyota dealer, I could legitimately say "We are located in the Tri-City auto mall near the Audi, Ford and BMW dealerships." That would be kosher and could even be more for the customer's benefit BUT the big G could scrape it and rank them for the words on the page.

And even if it was in title tag, I don't think Google would do anything. Even in Adwords the trademark law is a little merky and these are not paid results. So my guess is an atty would need to battle it directly with each company but again would not get far unless the words were in title tags.

I did a quick Google search and did not find anything official from Google on this, but I don't have time to dig deep.
 
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I deal with trademark violations for a few clients I run PPC (Adwords to be more specific) for, and it is a rough process to get a trademark violation resolved. First off, you need to register the specific trademark with Google's team, and really the only term which competitors will get denied on is the exact term you trademarked. An example is if I trademarked "1-888-Widgets", a competitor might be able to run ads using the term "Widgets." Kind of splitting hairs, but that's a situation I've seen in the past.

After speaking with Google reps about this, the trademark violations through ads are first flagged by an algo, not a manual review. Now I know that is how Google runs it with Adwords, but I thought it was relevant to bring up in this convo.

As for the local listings, it seems like Google's using the search phrase "BMW dealer" as a synonymous phrase for "car dealer," and returning those companies in the results. I mean unless the client is actually BMW's corporate office and requesting that no one but them actually uses that term, I think there is very little Google will do. It's a pain in the butt to get them to help on certain legal issues. That's just my .02 on dealing with Google's trademark/legal department in the past.
 
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In the case of Rosebay they indicate they're BMW specialists in the title tag. They're a service garage that has "factory trained technicians." They're using the term descriptively and since their service techs are likely trained by BMW to service their vehicles then it wouldn't be improper for the garage to use the term in the way they did. I don't see an actionable claim from a US legal perspective.
 

Phil Rozek

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There's also the fact that, at the end of the day, it's up to Google's algorithm to decide which businesses rank for which terms. Worst case, the businesses can say "Hey, Google decided to rank us for 'BMW dealers'."
 
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