Online advertising – legal ruling on trade marks as keywords

    October 2009

    A report issued recently by the Internet Advertising Bureau shows that, for the first time, advertisers now spend more on online advertising than on television advertising. In the first half of 2009, businesses in the UK spent over £1.75 billion on advertising online, an increase of 4.6% on 2008.

    Online advertising provides significant opportunities for businesses, particularly the ability to target goods and services at audiences most likely to buy them. Brandowners remain concerned, however, about the extent to which they can control how their brands are used in cyberspace. A recent opinion of the Advocate General (AG) of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has provided some clarification on this, specifically whether a brandowner can prevent a competitor from using its trade marks as keywords in online advertising.