I ran a small Google Adwords campaign recently, and I did not choose the keywords, I used the keyword tool and imported a shotgunsspread of terms using the category imports. A few days later I get this email from Godaddy trying to bully me into removing a keyword closely resembling their name.

Below is their letter and my reply. What do you think about this?

************** GoDaddy’s Bully Letter *************

Dear Glenn Lyvers:

It has recently come to our attention that your company appears to be bidding on Go Daddy’s trademarked terms (or terms that are confusingly similar to our trademarks) as keywords for search engine advertisements. The specific details are as follows:

Date: March 18, 2014, 5:17 a.m.

Engine: AOL

Title: Ultra fast web hosting

Text: Celebrating 20 years of service. Website hosting from $2 a month.

Display URL: www.instantaccess.net/

Keyword: go dady

Ad Link: http://instantaccess.net

Location: United States

Ad:

Ultra fast web hosting

Celebrating 20 years of service. Website hosting from $2 a month.

www.instantaccess.net/

Position on page:

8

Ad Click URL:

http://www.google.com/aclk?sa=L&ai=C…tantaccess.net

Go Daddy is the owner of the following U.S. trademark registrations (among others): GO DADDY (U.S. Reg. Nos. 2558989 and 2593111), GODADDY.COM (U.S. Reg. Nos. 2945200, 2969916 and 3672972), and DADDY (U.S. Reg. No.3156369).

These registrations are prima facie evidence of the validity of the marks, of our ownership of the marks, and of our exclusive right to use the marks in commerce. Go Daddy does not authorize any use that your company may be making of the trademarks described herein, nor is such use otherwise permissible under law.

Although our trademarked terms may not appear directly in your advertisements, we maintain that usage of Go Daddy’s protected trademarks as search terms/advertising keywords constitutes a trademark infringement. Advertising based on our trademarked keywords uses our marks in commerce in any way that is likely to cause confusion among consumers who perform a search for the protected mark “Go Daddy,” and are instead presented with an advertisement for a competing website.

To prevent confusion and to protect Go Daddy’s intellectual property rights, therefore, we request that you do the following:

1. Discontinue advertising on any and all search terms that are identical to or confusingly similar to our registered trademarks

2. Add the registered trademarks listed above to your “negative keywords” list to prevent your advertisements from appearing on searches for our registered trademarks in the future.

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this important matter.

Regards,

Carlos Becerra

I P Enforcement Administrator

Go Daddy Operating Company, LLC

********* My Reply Pasted Below ***************

Do you have any case citations that would support this claim of infringement being held up in court? It seems clear from Google’s policy which specifically notes that Google will not investigate ANY claims based on this type of assertion, that the line has been drawn based on their legal interpretation. In point of fact, I did not choose my keywords, I used those which were “suggested” by the Google Adwords system. In the absence of any meaningful reply from you, I will believe that Google suggests the use of keywords which are legal to use, and that there are hundreds if not thousands of other companies like mine which use these same terms. I have no intention of putting my company at a disadvantage without proof that you are not simply full of bologna.

I am of the belief that you already know this information. I am bidding on search terms within the private network of Google and it’s users, and not some public display of trademarked names in ad copy. My services and business name are clearly displayed to the customer, and they are certainly not confusing. Customers are NOT mislead into believing they are buying Godaddy services when they buy from me. Indeed, users have every expectation of receiving multiple results from numerous companies when they search for any search term whatsoever, even trademarked names. Moreover, I find that presenting superior services as an option to potential clients searching for competitive trademarked names is a service to those customers, particularly as it relates to the quality of services GoDaddy provides.

You already know that Google does not prevent these keywords, and that their actions lead to scores of companies employing the use of these search terms, and you are not pursuing a lawsuit against Google because there is no wrongdoing here and you know Google will defeat your claim and result in your company becoming a greater joke. Instead, you are trying to bully small competitors by sending letters with legal terms in hopes they will cower in fear or ignorantly relinquish even more market-share to the McDonalds of web hosting and keep the keyword costs low for your business. I suggest that you file a lawsuit against Google if you have any meaningful claim and true desire to stop hundreds (probably thousands) of companies from using keywords you find objectionable.

I hold that the use of competitor keywords, and even trademarks which do not appear in ad copy, is nothing more than allowing consumers to have choices between brands, even when they are searching for a particular brand, as is the nature of business in every shopping center in the world. It seems retailers like Amazon and others feel the same way when they display the brands of competing products when a visitor searches for a particular brand. Indeed, I found that among half a dozen of the world’s largets retailers, these policies remain uniform. The Google policy on trademarked names as search criteria is now universal as they have now adopted this policy in many countries. I currently stand with Google’s interpretation of this issue.

After a cursory search for cases, I have been unable to locate any precedent in which a court found that customers using competitor keywords has lead to brand name confusion or violated any law. My interpretation of the law is that use of keywords suggested by Google is completely legal. I have NO reason to believe that your interpretation of the law is more legitimate than my own without any proof. I wont be pushed around but I can be persuaded if you have a proof of an identical situation in which there is a precedent on file. I have no doubt but that if such a precedent exists, you would most certainly have it at your fingertips. Since you seem to be in the business of making requests of other companies with regard to their advertising practices, please supply the legal evidence to support your assertion and I may be persuaded to remove the keyword you find objectionable from my campaign.

If you wish to serve me with a lawsuit, I can be found at my residence. That address is publicly available.

Best regards,
Glenn Lyvers
InstantAccess.net

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