There’s going to be a fair amount of chat over the next few days about brand ownership. Current laws state that a company – say Marks and Spencer’s cannot advertise the terms Interflora and hijack customers.
However, there is no such rule stopping M&S buying the keyword Interflora on Google and hijacking those same customers who search for the term.
This is exactly what has happened though with these two companies and will be fighting it out today in the courts.
This has caused a bit of a storm in the SEO world and has major significance for all clients who own SEO words. In other words if M&S win, then you will see many firms buy their competitors brands.
The ethics of this is damned as law is more important.
As for Google – don’t they have a play in all of this?
The Register states that Google used to work with brand owners to stop their trade marks being used by others as keywords. Controversially, it changed its policy on 5th May 2008. Now almost any word is available for sponsorship, though Google’s policies still control the text of adverts that the keywords trigger.
What is essential to understand is that the traditional advertising model has become less important as search-terms take priority online.