If I have widget company called "Widget Designer" and I have a direct competitor who has "Widgitator Version 5", am I allowed to target a campaign using the literal keywords "Widgitator"?

Is this OK? Will they ever find out? Is it bad business?


I can't really say what the words are, but this is a good example, if my product is called "Chair-o-matic" and it makes chairs, and a competitors is called "Chair Maker 5" can I target the keyword pair "Chair Maker"?

2 Answers 2


What is Google's AdWords and AdSense trademark policy?

Google recognizes the importance of trademarks. Our AdWords Terms and Conditions prohibit intellectual property infringement by advertisers. Advertisers are responsible for the keywords they choose to generate advertisements and the text that they choose to use in those advertisements.

Google takes allegations of trademark infringement very seriously and, as a courtesy, we investigate matters raised by trademark owners. Trademarks are territorial and apply only to certain goods or services. Therefore, different parties can own the same mark in different countries or different industries. Accordingly, in processing complaints, Google will ask the trademark owner for information regarding where the mark is valid and for what goods or services. Please note the following about our complaint process:

  • The trademark owner doesn't need to be a Google AdWords advertiser in order to send a complaint.

  • Any such investigation will only affect ads served on or by Google.

  • Google's trademark policy does not apply to search results. Our investigations only apply to sponsored links. For trademark concerns about websites that appear in Google search results, the trademark owner should contact the site owner directly.

  • In the case of an AdSense for Domains trademark complaint, an investigation will affect only the participation of the domain name in question in our AdSense for Domains program.

  • Because Google is not a third-party arbiter, we encourage trademark owners to resolve their disputes directly with the advertisers, particularly because the advertisers may have similar ads running via other advertising programs.

  • So as long as it isn't trademarked it's game?
    – Tom Gullen
    Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 14:55
  • That's what it looks like. No trademark means no trademark protection.
    – John Conde
    Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 15:01

I have stumbled upon this many times when using Google.

However, something I have recently noticed:

I live in Amsterdam and there are many companies offering (company)outings. Over the last 2 years the competitions has been growing and the companies started advertising using each others company names. This has been going on for a while and now since a couple of weeks all these advertisements are gone!

I guess your competitor will find out very soon. If Google will find out is more difficult to say, but according to the above example my expectation is they, sooner or later, will. The consequence will most probably be that you will not be able to use that keyword any more... But it also largely depends on the keyword itself. When its generic it seems unlikely Google can block Advertisers from using it.

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