Major e-comm website fined for misleading advertising on Google Search

Major e-comm platform in Romania, e-Mag, has been fined by Romanian Tax Agency (ANAF) for misleading advertising on Google Search, according to Capital.ro

The company has allegedly advertised on Google Ads using the name of a competitor, this way misleading the customer in thinking they are clicking on a different platform and using the competitor’s brand reputation.

What is not illegal though is using keywords like competition names. Google allows it: “Google won’t investigate or restrict the selection of trademarks as keywords, even if we receive a trademark complaint.”

This basically means that you can’t claim keywords as your own. If a competitor wants to outbid you at your own game, they are more than welcome to.

This is quite a precedent in the Romanian law, because “brand ads”, as advertisers are calling the practice of using ads with the competition name, is quite common.

Technically, the advertisers are not using the logo mark but the name, which in this case is a registered trade mark.

This fined opens up a wide avenue of practices for court rulings and litigations. Writing content marketing articles with the competitors name in the title could be also interpreted as unlawful use of the competitor’s brand reputation.