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Marks and Spencer sued Interflora

Beware Keywords in Google Ads

December 6, 2008

It is interesting to hear Marks and Spencer is being sued by Interflora for using Interflora’s brand in their Google advertising.

I would hazard a guess that in many organisations the people at the top and the legal department are rarely aware of what is going on the ground.  Otherwise, why else has Marks and Spencer now ceased to bid on the Interflora in its keyword advertising? More than likely the marketers had simply decided to bid on other brands as keywords because Google relaxed its policy on such bids.  What they would not be aware of, is that the Court of Justice’s ruling is eagerly awaited on this question of whether bidding on competitors’ keywords is trade mark use.  If it is, then the practice will be trade mark infringement. 

I will watch this case with interest.  In the meantime, small business owners should take the case as an example of why it is so important to use a written contract when engaging the services of web marketing experts. 

If you are paying someone £150-£200 plus a month to handle your google adwords account it makes sense to spend a few hundred pounds on lawyers fees so you know what the web marketer is or is not going to do for you.  Who will be liable for what?  If the web marketer is going to bid on your competitors brands as keywords will they accept liability if you are sued?  If they will not indemnify you, then at least you should know that they are running these risks in your name, so you can take an informed decision whether to allow it to continue.