A recent MediaPost article exploring the search advertising efforts of the Avery Dennison Corporation (“Avery”) observed a substantial increase in clicks – and corresponding decrease in cost per click (“CPC”) and overall search ad costs – once Avery began enforcing its trademark rights.

Are your trademark enforcement practices leaving money on the table?

Search Advertising

Online search engines, such as Google (Google AdWords), Yahoo (Yahoo Gemini) and Bing (Bing Ads), allow sellers and their affiliates to purchase search ads to display advertising copy above or next to targeted search results. According to MediaPost, Avery (a manufacturer and distributor of office products, including its well-known adhesive labels) hired a third-party agency to spearhead its search advertising efforts.

The agency determined that other advertisers were purchasing search ads with the keyword “Avery,” which redirected to the websites of a number of Avery’s competitors. During the course of its search advertising campaign, Avery’s agency observed a strong correlation between the launch of competitor search ad campaigns using the keyword “Avery” and steep increases in Avery’s CPCs for advertising core brand terms – ranging from 67% to as much as 1,000%.

Avery’s Enforcement Efforts and Results

Since at least 1963, Avery has owned federal AVERY trademark registrations for a variety of office products. In response to the above-mentioned unauthorized third-party search advertising campaigns, Avery reportedly delivered cease-and-desist correspondence to the search engines displaying the ads in question, as well as to the subject third-party competitors themselves.

As the competitors’ search ads came down, several notable trends emerged:

  • Avery’s CPC decreased by 64%
  • Clicks on Avery’s search ads increased by 34%
  • Avery’s overall search advertising costs decreased by 51%

Trademark Enforcement: Protect Your Brands and Your Bottom Line

Although federal registration of a trademark provides a brand owner with certain benefits, the brand owner is ultimately tasked with monitoring third parties’ use of the mark and taking corrective action when necessary in order to protect the subject mark. Failure to do so could weaken the trademark or be construed as abandonment of the mark. Further, as discussed above, reasonable but diligent trademark enforcement procedures can oftentimes save businesses money. In Avery’s case, the reduction in search advertising costs saved the company thousands of dollars for the year.

Just as importantly, sellers and advertising agencies should have their search advertising keywords carefully vetted by an experienced advertising and intellectual property attorney before the launch of any new search ad campaign in order to minimize the risk of unwelcome legal surprises from third-party brand owners.