Adwords: Buying A Competitor’s Domain Name

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In August, I blogged about American Airlines suing Google for allowing other companies to buy their trademarked terms such as “American Airlines.”    I argued that Google should win this case because it was my opinion that another company should be able to buy generic keywords, like “American airlines,” since it isn’t necessarily associated with American Airlines.    Had it been a company with a more distinctive trademark, I would have argued that it was unethical to buy those keywords.    I have no legal background, so I couldn’t weigh in with a legal opinion.

That brings me to a post I just read on a forum about a company I do business with that is buying not only a keyword with the name of a competitor in it, but the actual domain name of the competitor.    I was surprised to see that when you type Sedo.com into Google, obviously searching for Sedo, there is a BuyDomains.com paid advertisement.    I don’t think this should be permitted by Google.    It’s one thing to buy keywords such as “Domain Brokers” or “Domain Sales,” but I don’t think it’s right to buy the exact keyword domain name of a competitor.

I am sure companies across a wide variety of industries are utilizing this practice, but that doesn’t make it right.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Not very fair play since sedo.com is certainly very clearly targeted. Now again, the other way round it would be OK???
    Sedo could target advertisment to “buy domains”.
    Very tricky!
    Where does law meet ethics???

    **UPDATED BY ELLIOT**
    I agree with you. “Buy Domains” would be an acceptable keyword in my opinion, but BuyDomains.com is not. Once you add the .com, you are targeting the company and not the keyword in my opinion.

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