m and s and interflora

PPC Brand Bidding Shakeup?

Well competitor PPC brand bidding just got a tad more complicated with the ruling this week involving Interflora and Marks & Spencer (M&S).

M&S has lost its five-year brand bidding trademark battle with Interflora following the High Court’s ruling that M&S infringed Interflora’s trademark.

Essentially M&S were bidding on Google Adwords for terms such as “Interflora”, presenting an ad for their own flower + gift service and sending the consumer to the M&S site.

…So the UK High Court judge on Tuesday ruled that M&S’ use of the Interflora trademark in a Google Ad to advertise its M&S Flowers site amounted to trademark infringement and said: “The M&S advertisements, which are the subject of Interflora’s claim, did not enable reasonably well-informed and reasonably attentive users to ascertain whether the service referred to the advertisement originated from the proprietor of the trade mark(M&S), or an undertaking economically linked to the trade mark owner or originating from a third party.”

PPC brand bidding ramifications

The headline readers of this ruling will believe that you can no longer bid on competitor brand terms.

Well they would be wrong.

Look into the ruling and you will find that the judgment was successful (mostly) as a result of consumers incorrectly believing that the “M&S’s flower delivery service was part of the Interflora network”

Note: You cannot always stop your ad showing for a competitor term e.g. retargeting ads. Also with Google developing adwords to include more behaviour and inferred search intent parameters in its algorithm again you cannot easily stop your ad showing for competitor related search queries.

Brand Conclusion: The judgment will make companies sit back and think more before targeting the competition and ensure there is no way consumers could think they are one and the same company/ affiliated. It will also stop some dodgy affiliate PPC practices where affiliates are using some underhand brand bidding tactics where the intent is to absolutely pass your site of as the brand bidded on.

In essence I believe that brand bidding activity will remain largely unchanged (though its early days and the ramifications of the ruling have not yet been felt).

Google Result: I’m not sure Google will do anything with this ruling and unless forced by the High Court (which it has not been in this ruling) will continue with the status quo. Brands will be left to fight it out in the High Court in future, perceived, trademark ‘abuse’ cases.

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