Protecting brands is increasingly complicated by the emergence of adware and keyword bidding, according to trademark experts.

Adware programs present trademark problems because adware programs often serve competitors’ ads over the pages of brand retailers or travel services, sometimes with customized offers based on user’s past surfing behavior.

Keyword bidding, another issue for companies looking to protect their brand, is the process by which advertisers bid against each other on various search terms for the right to have their relevant text ads placed prominently in the sponsored links section of major search engines like Google, MSN, and Yahoo! None of these providers has a policy that prohibits competitors from bidding on trademark terms. As a result, many brands lose out to higher bids on their trademark, which can ostensibly send traffic to competitors’ web sites even though a consumer might have originally had a certain brand name in mind.

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