Microsoft brings its advertising sales agency policy in line with Google’s

As the advertising sales agency of Bing and Yahoo!Search, the two most used search engines after Google, Microsoft Advertising announced the liberalization of its keyword registration policy. Starting March 3, 2011, registering trademarks as keywords is now possible within the framework of advertisement campaigns displayed on the Bing and Yahoo!Search search engines.

Bringing its trademark protection policy in line with Google’s, Microsoft will only act upon receiving a trademark owner’s complaint and after having conducted an inquiry on the litigious ad. In the presence of a litigious ad, Microsoft suggests that trademark owners first contact the advertiser and specifies that the following ads will be authorized:

–          Use of the trademark by resellers of authentic goods or services,

–          Information websites on the trademark (for example for product reviews),

–          Generic terms,

–          Comparative advertising by independent operators (for example price comparison websites)

This policy applies starting March 3, 2011 in the United States and Canada only.

Specific conditions, which are more or less protective of trademark rights apply in France, the United Kingdom and Singapore.

This general trend thus places new responsibilities on trademark owners. Indeed, the new policies impose the introduction of monitoring tools on all search engines while taking into account the principles of geolocation of ad campaigns. A trademark defense strategy should also be put in place on search engines, while taking into account case law developments within the ECJ and national courts on the subject.