As of March 3, 2011, Bing and Yahoo, are going to allow advertisers to bid on trademarked keywords. What this means is that your competitors will be able to bid on your brand name and Bing and Yahoo will not prevent them from doing that.
There is still recourse, however, to prevent your competitors from bidding on your name but you will likely need to call up your lawyers and file a trademark infringement claim which could be costly.
This is what it says on the Microsoft Advertising Website about their intellectual property guidelines:
“To come in line with search industry practices, as of March 3rd, Microsoft will cease editorial investigations into complaints about trademarks used as keywords to trigger ads on Bing & Yahoo! Search in the United States and Canada. If there is concern that an advertiser may be using a trademark keyword inappropriately, the trademark owner should contact the advertiser directly.”
This issue is not really new as Google has allowed companies to bid on trademarked terms for a number of years and the Google Adwords Trademark Policy states that they “…as a courtesy, we [Google] investigate matters raised by trademark owners.” However, bigger companies have more clout in these areas especially ones that spend hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars with Google a year. Will a client spending under $1000 a month in Google get the same amount of attention? Not likely.
However, I am not picking on Google, in fact I applaud them and their PPC system. It is far superior to the Bing/Yahoo system and to me the fact that Google and Bing are allowing advertisers to bid on trademarked terms is more about getting companies to spend more money with them on online advertising. That being said, it also seems like a desperate move by Bing/Yahoo to try and boost heir fledgling ad sales as they are clearly losing the online ad battle with Google
On another note, Many small companies have not, in fact, trademarked their name and/or logo. A number of years I went through the trademark process using the Vancouver law firm Oyen Wiggs Green and Mutala. It was a lengthy and somewhat costly process but well worth it for our business. So you had better not be bidding on keywords relating to our name!