WatchMouse launches GeoBrand, PPC brand abuse monitoring tool

[Holland] WatchMouse, the website performance monitoring company, has launched its new GeoBrand service today. It’s designed to detect “brand abuse” in search-based keyword advertising and follows the recent European Court ruling on the LVMH vs Google case which places the onus on the brands themselves to monitor for trademark infringements.

The service targets pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on Yahoo!, Google, and Microsoft Bing in over 30 countries and offers an automated way for brands to be alerted that a competitor is purchasing keyword advertising which potentially infringes on their trademark, listing offenses by country and specific search engine.

So, for example, a search that uses the trademarked term ‘Apple’ might deliver results that include ads for ‘HP’. In fact, that was the case when WatchMouse ran its GeoBrand tool across all of the companies featured in Interbrand’s “2009 Best Global Brands”, which rather conveniently determined that 81 percent of the top 100 global brands are victims of search engine advertising brand abuse including BMW, IBM, Cartier, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs and L’Oréal.

“It’s very challenging to detect when and where a brand is being exploited via online advertising because search engine results vary greatly depending on the user’s actual location by country”, notes Mark Pors, CTO and co-founder of WatchMouse. “GeoBrand is the only monitoring solution capable of detecting the unique PPC ads for each country’s search engines.”

But once you’ve discovered that a competitor is riding off the back of your brand’s coattails via the likes of Google, what next? Interestingly, WatchMouse dishes out the following course of action: complain to the ‘offending’ search engine, overbid the competition, and if necessary, take legal action. The fact that tools like GeoBrand could lead to more bidding wars on highly contested and potentially trademarked keywords might actually benefit the search engines, even if the recent European ruling puts a little more emphasis on them to intervene in any disputes.

GeoBrand is available for IP and trademark lawyers, members of INTA (International Trademark Association) and brand managers or stewards.