Competing on competitor’s trade marked name with Google Adwords

I would like to include a competitors trade marked name as a keyword within my Google Adwords campaign (UK).

I would be competing on the keyword only (the term that triggers the display of the advertisement), and neither the text of my advertisement nor the landing page on my site would make reference to the trade marked company name.

I’ve spent some time looking into this and seem to get a different answer everywhere I look.

If you could offer some clarification on this issue from a legal perspective then that would be much appreciated.


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Alasdair Taylor's Answer

In some circumstances this will amount to trade mark infringement.  The leading case at the moment is Interflora v M&S. There’s a good summary of the position stated by the CJEU on the Bird & Bird website:

Use of a registered trade mark as a Google Adwords keyword can be prevented if such use “is liable to have an adverse effect on one of the functions of a trade mark.”

Determining this will depend upon the particular circumstances.  E.g. Interfora argued that the INTERFLORA mark had a secondary meaning, namely that it denoted a network of florists, and therefore that internet users may be confused by M&S’s use of the mark into thinking that M&S was part of that network.

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