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Countermeasures for the Issue of Other Companies' Advertisements Appearing in Search Results for Your Company Name


Countermeasures for the Issue of Other Companies' Advertisements Appearing in Search Results for Your Company Name

There may be instances where, when you search for your company name, your products, or your materials on a search engine, advertisements from other companies appear in the search results.

This is due to other companies or affiliates posting on what are known as listing advertisements on Google or Yahoo!. To explain, listing advertisements are:

  1. Advertisements that appear when you search for a certain keyword
  2. With a certain ad text (or title)
  3. That include a link to a page of your choice, which you pay to post

This system itself is a legitimate advertising strategy, for example, to guide internet users who want to find a lawyer who is strong in a certain area to your law firm’s website, and is not something that should be blamed.

However, unfortunately, there are also advertisements that are posted with the intention of:

  1. Appearing when someone searches for the name of a certain company (A) or the name of its products or materials
  2. Setting it up so that advertisements for another company (B) or its products or materials are displayed
  3. Guiding internet users who were interested in A to B

Such advertisements can be said to be “unpleasant” for A.

Some Ads Are Posted Unintentionally

However, the first thing to understand is that these ads are not necessarily posted with ‘malice’ (in the narrow sense) or intentionally.

Google and Yahoo! listing ads are:

  • Displayed even for partial matches or similar keywords to the ones set
  • The service provider may suggest posting ads with certain keywords

Because of these features, companies and others who post ads may not fully understand ‘which keywords will display their listing ads to users’. There are cases where they do not fully understand this.

In such cases, if you suddenly make a strong request for deletion, the attitude of the other party, the company, may harden, making it difficult to discuss the matter.

Listing ads have a feature called ‘phrase match negative keywords’. Simply put, it’s a setting that ‘does not display ads when a search is conducted with a certain keyword (and keywords that exactly match it)’. If the other party, such as another company, is not posting ads with ‘malice’ (in the narrow sense), there are actually cases where they will comply if you politely request them to register negative keywords.

Not All Annoying Ads are Necessarily ‘Illegal’

Next, it’s important to understand that not all such advertisements are necessarily ‘illegal’.

When it comes to rights related to ‘names’, such as company names, products, and materials, the first thing that comes to mind is ‘trademark rights’. For example, if a company has registered a trademark for its name or product name, it has rights to that name. Therefore, it might seem illegal for someone to arbitrarily register that name as a keyword in an advertisement.

However, simply put, trademark rights do not mean ‘you can’t say Disney’. If the name ‘Disney’ is registered as a trademark, it means that others cannot arbitrarily establish a company with a name like ‘Disney Co., Ltd.’, but individuals are free to tweet something like ‘I watched a Disney movie today’. Trademark rights prohibit only the ‘trademark use’ of the registered mark in a certain manner, in legal terms. In conclusion, if a company name or product/material name is registered as a trademark, in relation to listing advertisements,

  • Setting that word as a keyword in a listing advertisement is, in principle, legal
  • Whether it is legal to include that word in the ad text (or title) displayed as a listing ad is a case-by-case judgment

This point is detailed in the article below.[ja]

As for listing ads that can be legally deemed illegal, it is worth considering making a deletion request with a view to ultimately stopping the ad placement or claiming damages in the negotiation process. However, it should be noted that not all ‘unpleasant’ ads from other companies can be deemed illegal.

Google Does Not Investigate Trademark Use as Keywords

On this point, Google states,

Trademark use as keywords
Trademark use as keywords is not subject to Google’s investigation or restrictions.

Trademark – Google Ads Policy Help[ja]

Google explicitly states that if a trademark-registered keyword is set as a keyword for a listing advertisement, it is legal and not even subject to investigation. However, there may be room for debate as to whether this blanket judgment is necessarily legally correct.

Considering these points, the determination of illegality is extremely legal in nature, and it can be said that cases like these should be judged by lawyers with expertise in such matters.

Who Should Be Protested Against

Considering the problematic situations mentioned above, there could be multiple parties that should be protested against for their ‘unpleasant’ advertisements. This is a topic that should be listed based on the understanding of the mechanisms of listing advertisements and affiliates, and how they are actually utilized on the internet. In this sense, it involves a somewhat specialized discussion in terms of IT.

Providers of Listing Advertising Services such as Google and Yahoo!

The first thing that comes to mind is the provider of the listing advertising service, such as Google if it’s Google’s listing advertisement. However, as mentioned above, these service providers are generally reluctant to investigate or restrict advertisements, particularly those that register their company name or their products/materials as keywords.

Advertising Agencies

Next, let’s talk about the advertising agencies that are ‘actually’ placing these ads. Especially when dealing with large corporations, it’s often the case that listing ads are not managed in-house but are outsourced to external agencies. For instance, when you search for your own company (A), you might see ads from another company (B). In reality, these ads are not managed by B, but by an advertising agency (C) that B has commissioned.

In cases where the ad placement could be considered illegal, and if negotiations become difficult leading to a lawsuit, company A would sue company B. Since company C is commissioned by B to manage the ad operations, it is in their best interest to prevent B from losing the lawsuit. In some cases, B may not be fully aware of the details of the ad operations. Therefore, if it is known which company C is, it may be smoother to request the removal directly from C.

Affiliate Service Provider (ASP)

Next, let’s consider the case where the displayed advertisement (or its linked destination) is not the competitor’s company itself, but an affiliate site that introduces and attempts to sell the competitor’s products. In other words, for example,

  1. A user who searches for your company (A)
  2. Is directed to a site that introduces and sells products from another company (B)
  3. The operator (C) of the affiliate site earns an affiliate commission from B when a purchase is made from that site

This is a type of business that exists.

In this case, C earns an affiliate commission from B through a service provider called an “Affiliate Service Provider (ASP)”.

An Affiliate Service Provider (ASP) is a service provider that delivers performance-based advertising primarily on the Internet, and is sometimes abbreviated as ASP. Advertisers (EC) use ASP as an intermediary to request advertising on websites operated by individuals or corporations, and pay advertising fees to the affiliate site as performance rewards when predetermined performance conditions such as clicks on advertisements or purchases of advertised products are met.

Affiliate Service Provider – Wikipedia[ja]

Depending on the ASP, there may be cases where it is prohibited to receive affiliate commissions for customers acquired through illegal advertisements such as trademark infringement. In such cases, you can notify the ASP that “a user (C) of your service is violating the terms of your service, and this is causing damage to our company (A)”, and ask the ASP to urge C to remove the advertisement.


In the pattern mentioned above, it is natural to consider not only the Affiliate Service Provider (ASP), but also the operator of the affiliate site (the affiliate), referred to as C, to request similar removals.

However, many affiliate sites are operated anonymously, at least on the surface, and it is not uncommon for the operator’s contact information to be unlisted. In such cases, identifying the affiliate involves a highly specialized task that combines IT investigation and legal procedures.

Hosting Servers for Affiliate Sites

In some cases, like the one mentioned above, the operator of the affiliate site may be unknown, but the server hosting the site can be identified. In such situations, it is possible to request the affiliate (C) to remove the content through the hosting server.

Payment Companies (Various Credit Card Payments and Internet Payment Proxy Services)

Many ASPs and affiliates contract with payment companies that can process payments on the internet to earn affiliate rewards. In such cases, they may notify the payment company that “a user (C) of your service is violating the terms of your service, causing our company (A) to suffer damages.” They can then ask the payment company to urge C to remove the advertisement.

Competitors Whose Products are Purchased Through Advertising

Competitors (B) whose products end up being purchased based on advertisements displayed through searches for their own company name, as we have explained so far, may fall into one of the following categories:

  • Those who directly place the advertisements within their own company
  • Those who commission advertising agencies to place the advertisements (including listing advertisements and general advertisements)
  • Those who promote their own products through affiliates via an ASP (Application Service Provider)

Regardless of the method, if you are in a position where you have commissioned an advertising agency or an affiliate through an ASP, especially if the advertisement is illegal, you are in a position where you should stop the advertisement. There is also the option of taking action against the competitor to stop the advertisement.


The issue of other companies’ advertisements appearing in search results for your company name can be:

  • Legally problematic in some cases, or cases where it would be gentlemanly to request removal, and the type of negotiation that should be conducted varies case by case, requiring legal expertise for judgement
  • Deciding who to negotiate with requires knowledge of IT and understanding of internet business, and there may be cases where legal procedures are involved in the investigation, requiring knowledge of both IT and law

This is highly specialized.

Furthermore, it should be noted that it takes time to regularly search for such “unpleasant” advertisements within your company, so it would be better to outsource such investigations as much as possible.

It can be said that measures against other companies’ advertisements should be entrusted to a law firm with high expertise in IT and law.

Our Firm’s Approach

Monolith Law Office, with its high level of expertise in both IT, particularly the internet, and law, provides solutions to address what could be called “listing pollution” issues. Details are provided in the article below.

Managing Attorney: Toki Kawase

The Editor in Chief: Managing Attorney: Toki Kawase

An expert in IT-related legal affairs in Japan who established MONOLITH LAW OFFICE and serves as its managing attorney. Formerly an IT engineer, he has been involved in the management of IT companies. Served as legal counsel to more than 100 companies, ranging from top-tier organizations to seed-stage Startups.

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