What Do I Do After Finding a Trademark Bidder?

sam.engel Mar 16, 2016

Okay, so you’ve found someone advertising on your branded keywords (perhaps using one of the methods from our previous post). Now what? You can’t change the search landscape overnight, so it’s time to figure out where to go next.

We recommend taking an approach with the following steps:

Step 1: Determine the Desired Outcome

You know that the trademark bidder is advertising in some capacity. What do you want to happen next? To answer this question, you have to balance your company’s own marketing goals and priorities with the realities you’re facing. After all, while many brands want to be the only advertiser that appears on their brand terms, that outcome isn’t easy to bring about.

What’s the right target? Maybe you already have a trademark bidding policy or strategy in place that helps guide your answer. But even if you don’t, you can still arrive at a reasonable idea by asking some pointed questions. We recommend considering the following:

  • What value (or harm) is this trademark bidder creating for my brand?
  • What level of trademark bidding would I be comfortable with from this advertiser?
  • What ability do I have to control their trademark bidding? (Consider what you can enforce or dictate, such as: ad copy restrictions, limiting specific keywords, or banning trademark bidding entirely.)


Step 2: Know What You’re Dealing with

Before rushing to an advertiser and telling them to take down their ads, it helps to have data that supports the action you’re taking. This can vary tremendously based on the type of advertiser you’re dealing with.

For example, if you find an individual instance of an affiliate hijacking your ads, that may be grounds for immediate dismissal from your affiliate program. However, if it’s a larger marketing partner (e.g. a channel partner, a reseller, an OTA, etc.), you’ll probably want to do some more thorough investigation before requesting that they change their practices—or walk into your next contract negotiation.

Regardless of the specific trademark bidder, the principle is the same. You need information to approach the problem rationally and confidently. Make sure you have the data to support your position, and you’ll have a lot more success in achieving the target outcome. Feel free to use some of the methods detailed in our previous post to collect the information you need.

Step 3: Figure Out What Action to Take

Now that you know what you’re up against, it’s time to figure out what you should actually do about it. Your options depend on several factors, such as who the advertiser is, how they’re advertising, and even the search engines’ policies. Ask yourself the following questions to help narrow down your set of possible actions:

  • Do I have a relationship with this advertiser?
  • If so, do I have a trademark bidding policy? (Or, should I have a trademark bidding policy?)
  • Is their ad (or are their ads) in violation of that policy?
  • Does the ad (or do the ads) violate the search engines’ trademark policies?


Use these questions, along with your desired outcome from step 1, to determine the most effective course of action.

If it’s a marketing partner that’s infringing on an agreement for the first time, you might consider sending them a quick note or possibly a stern violation notice. If it’s a repeat infringement and your contract is up for renewal, you could save the information for use in that negotiation.

Perhaps it’s a Search Arbitrager using your trademark in their ad copy—in which case, you can submit a trademark complaint to the relevant search engine.

In some cases, the resolve may be no corrective action at all. You can always choose to collect more information or focus more efforts towards monitoring. Regardless of which action you take, the more important thing is that you’re making an informed and intentional decision about the trademark bidding you face.

Step 4: Enforce Consistently

Once you’ve started taking action, you need to maintain vigilance and momentum. Remember, a single enforcement won’t change everything forever. Trademark bidders can resume their activity if they suspect you’re asleep at the wheel, and new ones can pop up at any time. By committing to the outcome you want and consistently taking action, you’ll get much more meaningful results.

So, how do you make that commitment without distracting yourself from other priorities? There are two key components to success here:


Once you’ve done a few of these enforcement actions, start thinking about what it took to go through those steps. How could those steps be more efficient—and more effective? Start with something simple, perhaps a series of steps you take to check for trademark bidders periodically. Then, consider adding some structure to track the violations and actions you’ve taken over time (this could just be done in a simple spreadsheet).

Automated Monitoring

While there’s a lot you can do with the ad-hoc investigation methods we’ve identified in our previous post, there’s still a significant manual component to each of them. Automated monitoring, like we provide in our Paid Search Monitoring service, provides more thorough coverage with less of a demand on your time. The result: increased control over your brand in paid search, more direct traffic, and lower cost-per-click. Curious? We’d be happy to give you a complimentary demo to show you how trademark bidding affects your brand.




Topics: Trademark Bidding

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