Bing/Yahoo to allow competitors to bid on trademarked keywords in US and Canada

Bing and Yahoo announced earlier last week that starting March 3, 2011, it will begin to allow advertisers in US and Canada to use competitors’ trademarks when bidding for online ads. This shift in policy doesn’t come as a complete surprise since it now aligns with Google’s current policies in the U.S., Britain, Canada and 200 other countries

So what does this mean to brand owners? Any third party (including competitors) can now bid for trademarked keywords and as a result, brand owners can no longer request the exclusive use of trademarked terms or control which ads appear during users’ searches.

Bing and Yahoo will continue to remove abusive ads seen today. Applicable scenarios include taking action upon counterfeit situations, ads or landing pages that contain copyrighted material (this may include piracy), or ads that contain text that confuse users as to the origin of the advertised goods and services, among others.

The bottom line is this: Brand owners can and should still continue to enforce on their brands, but the onus is not on search engines policing the actions of third parties. It is up to the brandowners to be proactive in defending their rights and protecting their brands online.