Google Ads warning

Installers and fabricators could be losing thousands of pounds of new business to copycat advertisers who exploit their brand and local reputation online.

The warning comes from Hants-based home improvement specialist KJM Group, which was targeted by a competitor business, Cheapest Double Glazing, and was first raised by Glass Times in May.

Cheapest Double Glazing, registered to an address in London, ran a series of Google Ads in April. These used the header ‘KJM Windows – Top Quality Windows and Doors –’.

Mark Pearce, managing director of KJM Group, said: “Google Ads are the paid-for adverts that appear at the top or the side of your search in Google.

“The ads placed by Cheapest Double Glazing, in our opinion, could be very easily confused by homeowners as having been placed by us.

“The use of ‘KJM Group’ in the strapline of the ad means that it’s not unreasonable to suggest that someone could click on it believing that they were being directed to our own website, when in fact they were being completely re-directed to a third-party site.

“We hadn’t registered our company name as a trademark – something that we have now done – which meant that it wasn’t protected.

“In law, and within Google’s own guidelines, Cheapest Double Glazing hadn’t committed an offence leaving us with very little redress, despite what is the very clear and cynical exploitation of our brand.”

The KJM boss is urging any fabricators or installers, which haven’t yet done so, to register their brands as trademarks. This will avoid what Mark described as the pitfalls of the “wild west of online advertising”.

Registration of a trademark gives you the exclusive right to use the mark or authorise someone else to use it, for the goods or services for which it is registered. This includes the legal basis for action against someone who uses it to promote the same or similar goods for which its registered.

This also empowers businesses to seek specific redress from Google.

“We’d encourage other business owners in and around Hampshire to learn from our experience,” Mark said. “Without trademark registration, Google won’t remove the ads despite our requests because in law no offence has been committed.”

Businesses that have not registered their company names as trademarks can seek redress in Common Law under ‘Passing-off’ legislation. This puts the onus on the complainant to evidence their use of a brand or business name and the inferred ownership of it from this.

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