SUTTONS BAY, MI: Most search engines in recent years have begun allowing companies to purchase ads that pop up when consumers enter specific search terms. But what they don't offer is a guarantee that a competitor won't buy an ad tied to your company's n
Oneupweb, a search engine optimization and marketing firm, has now unveiled a product that allows companies to monitor just that.
The tool monitors activity on search engines and grabs a snapshot when a competitor has purchased an ad corresponding to a brand-name search. Lisa Wehr, Oneupweb's president, said that companies who do so come close to trademark infringement, and that the practice that could lead to lawsuits.
"I'm not an attorney, but there is an onus on trademark owners to defend their brand," Wehr said, citing several court cases that have already sprung up around the practice.
In the largest of those cases, Geico brought a lawsuit against Yahoo's Overture service and Google for trademark infringement in 2004 when the sites sold advertisements attached to "Geico" to other organizations. Overture settled out of court, while the case against Google was dismissed.
But few in the industry feel the issue has been settled.
"I'm not a proponent of lawsuits, so the nice thing about the tool is that you can send [a PDF] and a cease-and-desist letter without involving the courts," Wehr said. "[The client] has protected its trademark and it's likely the advertiser won't participate in that activity again."
Wehr also said a company should know what potential customers are seeing when they search for its brand name regardless of legal ramifications. Wehr said that while some larger corporations are already monitoring this activity, the Oneupweb tool cuts down the hours required to monitor occurrences.
Oneupweb rolled the product out in beta testing a couple months ago, and some undisclosed clients are using the service. The company will also offer it as a stand-alone service to non-clients.