Adword use of competitorís trademark

When is it allowed to use your competitors / market leaders brand as an Adword in an online campaign? In a recent case defendant carried out a comparison test of his own water softener (Aquamag7000) and the Amfa4000 from competitor 24Man. The comparison is positive for the defendants product and the company wants to generate publicity with this result. If the search term Amfa4000 is entered in Google, ads appear with headlines like “Amfa4000 vs Aquamag 7000 - read this before your purchase”.


This advertisement links to a website on which the test results are featured along with the conclusion that the Aquamag7000 is twice as powerful while being cheaper than the Amfa4000. Man24 objects to this.

Rule is that it must be immediately clear to the average internet user from which party the advertisement originates. If both brands are directly featured in the page header, it will be clear that this is a comparison test of two products (one of which is from the competitor).

It is irrelevant that the affiliated company sells more products as a result of this. This is allowed.

There was also an ad that only featured the competitor's brand. That is not allowed. In this way it is unclear what the relationship is between the advertisers company and the competitor's brand. So you may use a competitor's brand, but should do so with care. (Source image:


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IP quiz Trademarks

Puma is one of the bigger sports and lifestyle brands in the world. The core-business is the design, development and sale of (sports) shoes, (sports) clothing and accessories. In 1960, Puma registered an international trademark for a device designed in 1958: the formstrip. Since then, Puma has registered approximately 90 formstrip trademarks with validity in the Benelux or the European Union. Puma claims that this is a serial mark. Monshoe is a wholesaler of women's shoes and related products. The company designs and develops Monshoe shoes which it largely markets itself. Monshoe sells its women's shoes under the brands Shoecolate and Pearlz. The shoe Shoecolate is offered in various colour combinations. Puma claims that Monshoe infringes its well-known formstrip trademark. Monshoe contradicts this and states that the average consumer will not perceive the device of Monshoe on the sneakers as a trademark. And if the public will recognize a trademark in the decoration, it will not make the connection to Puma. According to Monshoe, the formstrip logo is not a well-known trademark within the meaning of the BVIE and the UMVo. There is no likelihood of confusion because the sign does not or hardly evoke any association with Puma among the public. In light of the above, who is right? Does this constitute decorative use or linking to a well-known trademark?