With the online space as unregulated as it is, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to truly know whether they are safe from IP infringements. In particular, social media, key words, sponsored links and the like are introducing new IP threats every day. Thankfully, however, a recent Australian IP battle has set a new precedent which prevents trademarks being used as Google AdWords.
That’s right – in a landmark case, it has been proven that a company using another’s registered trademarks as Google AdWords was indeed infringing on their trademark rights.
The culprit was a company called Tailly, who was sub-letting a group of apartments as holiday rentals from the ‘Circle on Cavill’ complex in the Gold Coast. The exclusive on site selling agent, Mantra, owned ‘Circle on Cavill’ and a number of similar variations as trademarks.
The infringing company was using the terms ‘Circle on Cavill’ and variations of such, as domain names, within their website, advertising and press releases, and registered them as Google AdWords.
And the punishment?
Tailly was asked to permanently restrain from using the trademarks in any advertising or promotions, including online; ordered to transfer all domain names to the trademark owner; and hand over all profits as generated from any bookings to the trademark owner.
This case highlights 2 lessons:
1. Keep an eye on your trademarks to ensure no-one is using them as Google AdwWords (or anything else for that matter) and if so, immediately get in touch with an IP attorney, us, or Google. Upon receipt of your objection, Google is obliged to remove the AdWords.
2. Ensure any Google AdWords campaigns you intend to implement do not infringe on any other trademarks or you could find yourself in big trouble!