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Experts Warn Search Engines Over Paid Listings

by Glen Shapiro, LawAndTax-News.com, New York

21 August 2003


Experts speaking at the Jupitermedia Search Engine Strategies Conference have warned that a recent complaint from online auction site, eBay, over the use of its trademark in paid listings on Google may be just the beginning.

Earlier this month, the firm took advantage of Google's policy of allowing companies to claim certain rights over their own names and keywords, and requested that search-related advertisements using the eBay trademark be modified. Contained in the 13 page list of terms and sites deemed unacceptable by the auction giant were phrases such as 'eBay power seller', and 'eBay management software'.

However, according a Reuters report, leading search engines such as Google and Overture have recently boosted their paid listings service by suggesting that advertisers bid on related terms, such as Nike or Adidas for the search term 'running shoes'.

Speaking to the news service on the sidelines of the conference, Jeffrey Rohrs, strategist at digital marketing firm, Optiem, suggested that in doing so: 'Arguably, (Google and Overture) are facilitating one of the greatest trademark infringement schemes ever perpetrated'.

Some search engines have countered by arguing that they are not selling the trademarks of others, but are merely permitting advertisers to bid for their use. However, Google's policy of removing offending advertisements if trademark holders complain has set a 'dangerous precedent', according to Rohrs.

He went on to explain that some observers believe that it is only a matter of time before the popular search engine changes its policy on the use of trademarked names.


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