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Last Updated on September 23, 2021

Using trademarked names in Pay Per Click advertising raises some issues that marketers need to be aware of. Google AdWords and Microsoft AdCenter do not just allow anyone to use trademarks in their ad copy, but there are still ways to utilize trademarks, depending on the specific services and products that the site offers.

To begin with, advertisers can include trademarks in their keyword lists and advertise on any keyword that they want, at least in the United States. However, if a trademark holder files an exception request, then the marketer can not use the trademark in their actual ad copy.

The main issue with using trademarks in ad copy is whether or not the ad passes the "sniff test." This means that the use of the trademark name must not be confusing to consumers. Google does not want sites advertising on its network to mislead or defraud consumers. There are a number of requirements that must be met for an ad containing a trademark to pass the sniff test.

First, the ad can use the name in a descriptive manner, or specific manner (a website selling apple cider, for instance, does not infringe on the Apple Computers trademark). Second, if the website sells goods related to the trademark or resales goods, then the use is generally acceptable to advertise on. Third, if the business sells replacement parts or parts that are compatible with the products that are trademarked, the use is usually acceptable. Finally, informational sites can generally use names that are trademarked.

When submitting a new ad that contains a trademark, however, Google will require the marketer to submit an exception request, and the new ad copy will remain under review until a representative can review it. This can take days, weeks, or months, depending on the situation, so it is a good idea to request to have the ad approved manually if it is not done in a timely manner automatically. Once the ad is approved, it is placed into a Limited status, meaning that it will appear on sites owned by Google, but may not appear on partner sites.

One thing to keep in mind is that Google does not allow trademarks in ads that are purely compatible. However, Microsoft does allow this use. Facebook's policies are still evolving, so it is a good idea to review their advertising policies before including any trademarks in ad copy through their system.

Four Ways to Use Trademarked Terms in Pay Per Click Advertising