One of the bigger challenges for merchants and their affiliate managers is controlling their brand in the search engines.
Companies enforce various policies on the terms affiliates can bid on in the paid search results, but they have no control over bids from competitors.
And that’s just how Google (GOOG) wants it to be for the foreseeable future.
The stance by Google on trademark bids has influenced the affiliate policies for many companies.
While companies often view searches on their trademarked terms as low hanging fruit that they should control themselves, they are finding that it makes sense to allow some or all affiliates to bid on the terms.
The reasoning here is that if a consumer searches for a trademarked term, they are trying to find the respective company, so if a competitor drains away that consumer, it’s viewed as a likely lost sale.
Merchants are able to leverage their affiliates to drive down the competition and drive up the cost to bid on those trademarked terms, making it less attractive for competitors to bid.
Anyhow, according to an article in Information Week, Google filed a brief on February 14, 2007 making the argument as to why their sale of trademarked search keywords as ad triggers is legitimate.
Google and Rescuecom have been litigating on the issue of trademark infringement since September 2004. In September 2006, the judge in the case granted Google’s motion to dismiss, but Rescuecom appealed.
My prediction – Google wins the case and the trademark owners lose.