Online shopping is on the increase with more and more people jumping online to do their shopping. Whether it is an impulse purchase off one of the many “daily deal” websites or a premeditated purchase of weekly groceries, airline tickets, clothing, books, cosmetics or flowers, consumers are increasingly enjoying the convenience of shopping online.
It seems that while real-time retail has been suffering, online sales have been growing. But what happens when a consumer has something in mind they want to purchase, but they are not too sure which website to go to…? They do an internet search – quite likely on Google.
The increasing use of search engines to identify products, services and specific brands available online means it is more important than ever to ensure your business has a strong online presence. A successful online presence is one where your website appears on the first results page of a Google search related to your business and one where consumers are easily able to differentiate your business from that of your competitors. As a result, the use and value of Google AdWords in the online market is likely to continue to grow.
AdWords are purchased keywords which when entered as a search term will return certain advertisements as part of the search results. The advertisements appear at the top of the search results page and are displayed in a pale yellow box – they are not necessarily the best results for the term searched. Any website links included in the yellow advertisement box are there because one of the words typed into the Google search bar has been purchased by the website page owner as an AdWord from Google. This is not a problem when you purchase your own business name, brand or trade mark as an AdWord – but what happens if a competitor purchases your name, brand or trade mark as an AdWord? If your own online presence is not strong enough, consumers might end up on your competitor’s website instead.
The issue of purchasing someone else’s trade mark as an AdWord is not a new issue. Courts overseas have recently held that purchasing and using someone else’s trade mark as an AdWord does not on its own amount to trade mark infringement. However, if the resulting advertisement includes a third party’s trade mark or the wording of the advertising link is misleading or deceptive in any way, then use of the AdWord may amount to trade mark infringement and be in breach of consumer protection laws (ie. the Fair Trading Act).
If you are trading online you should consider these points:
- What steps can you take to improve your online presence? There are companies and consultancies that specialise in “search engine optimisation” if you need assistance.
- If you were searching for your own website, what keyword phrases would you type into Google to find your website? Often, the best defence is a good offence so consider purchasing those keywords as AdWords with Google.
- If you become aware that someone is selling knock-offs of your products, take immediate action to stop all advertising and sale of such products.
- If you become aware of any online activity which suggests a competitor is connected to you or somehow endorsed by you, take immediate action.