South Africa’s first Google AdWords case has been concluded and the ruling has paved the way for competing companies to bid on keywords relating to each other’s trademarks.
As many of our clients know, AdWords is Google’s pay-per-click advertising service that enables businesses to run text adverts in the Google Search window. These adverts appear alongside the organic results when users type specific keywords into the Google search bar. To secure their keywords, advertisers bid on their chosen terms and the price of these varies according to their popularity.
In August, Cochrane Steel launched a case with the Gauteng High Court seeking a final interdict against a competitor, M-Systems, with the aim of prohibiting their use of the term ‘ClearVu’ as a Google AdWords keyword or metatag, reports Fin24.
ClearVu is a Cochrane Steel brand that has not yet been registered in South Africa. The company argued that by bidding on ClearVu as a keyword, M-Systems had inflated the price of this term in Google AdWords.
M-Systems denied using ClearVu as a metatag but admitted to using the word in its keyword advertising.
The High Court ruled against Cochrane Steel last week, with the ruling stating:
“The respondent’s use of keyword advertising, even where it had a registered trademark over the keyword, would only be prohibited where it causes confusion. In this matter a consumer who searches for ‘ClearVu’ is confronted with a multiplicity of suppliers. No reasonable consumer could possibly be under the impression that all of them relate directly to the applicant. This brings local law in line with international rulings and gives South African companies the go-ahead to purchase keywords relating to their competitors’ trademarks – provided there is no deception.”
For more insight into how to incorporate pay-per-click in your digital marketing strategy, contact Clint.