USING a competitor’s trademark as a ‘key word’ to get your brand more exposure in Internet search results is controversial, and it has resulted in many court cases where companies have tried to protect their brand from such use.

Issues arise where there is clear conduct aimed at confusing a section of the market and obtaining sales as a result. Using generic key word terms, with the goal of triggering an advertisement when users search for a competitor, may amount to infringement.

Businesses may need to take more care to think about what ‘negative matches’ they should use when dealing with Google AdWords.

For further advice on your online advertisements, and whether they may infringe an intellectual property right, please call Robert Finlayson, managing partner and solicitor in charge of the dispute resolution team at Lamb Brooks, on 01256 305510, or email him at