Microsoft to Trademark Owners: You Are on Your Own

That Google has escaped liability for selling trademarked names as AdWords was not enough to entice Microsoft and Yahoo (via the alliance with Microsoft established a year ago) into the fold.  However, as you read about in the case we reported on here, now that the advertiser can be on the hook for infringement damages, the proverbial scale has been tipped.

In a confusing, conflicting announcement on their Web site, under the heading Intellectual Property Guidelines, Microsoft eventually makes it clear, “as an advertiser, you are responsible for ensuring that your use of keywords and ad content, including trademarks and logos, does not infringe or violate the intellectual property rights of others.”  

And to the trademark owner, “you are responsible for contacting an advertiser directly if you believe that your trademark is being used improperly.”

As for their role, Microsoft will no longer conduct editorial investigations, “to come in line with search industry practices” (read, since Google gets away with it …). To be fair, Microsoft does attempt to list some ethical respect-for-others’-intellectual-property guidelines, and, ironically, they are VERY clear about the prohibited use of their own IP in adExcellence ads.