We had a Google Advert rejected for using the word “Skips”, I investigated and found an unfair system that favours large companies over small.

I was extremely surprised. When I went down and looked at the detail of this it had flagged the use of “skips” as a trademark and had taken the ad offline.

“Skips” had been used in the context of a waste skip in the sentence below.

“Turn your industrial wood waste skips into energy and stop worrying about Gas prices rises.”

We are a manufacturer of Industrial Wood Waste Burners, Boilers and Furnaces and use terms like skip, waste wood, dumpster and bin in our advertising. Most of it being in this context of “stop using wood waste skips and buy a WA150 and get your heat for free”. Google informed us that “Skips” is a trademark and we would need “authorisation from the trademark owner to use their trademark without restrictions”.

I was really surprised that “Skips” was a trademark. It is a common generic word describing used mainly in the UK and Australia and the American equivalent word would be a dumpster. Not being content to be bullied by “big waste management” using a generic term as a trademark I investigated further.

I looked up who has the trademark for “Skips” and found it to be UK00912005633 who filed the trademark in 2013. Then I was quite surprised when I saw the classes and terms, which provides the context of where the trademark can be enforced.

Class 29

Extruded and pelletised or otherwise manufactured or processed vegetable and potato products for snacks; Roasted, dried, salted, spiced, coated and processed nuts, cashew kernels, pistachios, almonds, peanuts, coconuts (dried); Preserved, dried and cooked fruits and vegetables; Seaweed extracts for food; Ginger products being dried fruit.

Class 30

Extruded and pelletised or otherwise manufactured or processed tapioca, manioc, rice, maize, wheat or other cereal products and ginger products being confectionery and jelly fruits for snacks; Savoury biscuits and pretzels; Muesli bars, mainly consisting of nuts, dried fruits, processed cereal grains; Chocolate and chocolate products; Sauces.

Class 31

Unprocessed nuts, cashew kernels, pistachios, almonds, peanuts and seeds; Algae for human consumption.

My first thought was “Algae for human consumption”, that sounds gross, then…

Wait, these are all snacks!!! Sure enough, the trademark owner name is KP Snacks Limited of Slough.

So, the algorithms at Google Ads have got this one completely wrong. In overzealous move to protect trademarks, google have empowered their algorithms to be able to do a basic regex and find the term “skips” but the AI part of their system, if they are even using AI, has failed to pick up the context.

The other option is that KP Snacks Limited of Slough are serious about protecting their trademarks and there is a Google AD content ID systems that flags up potential trademark violations.

Either way, these systems are clearly a bit dim. Imposing content ID restrictions on Google Ads in support of Trademarks without the understanding in the system that Trademarks exist within the context of classes and have their usage restricted to specific contexts. Google can beat a human in the game of Go, but cannot deploy a system to tell the difference between a “wood waste skip” and a “tasty, extruded algae snack from KP Snacks of Slough called Skips”.

Being a small business and being bullied by larger companies in this manner really angers me. It does make me feel the playing field is stacked against us and large companies can literally control the language that you are allowed to use.

I have now filled in a “Google Ads Trademark Consult Form” hope that we can get back to turning your industrial wood waste skips into energy. In the meantime, we have changed our usage from skips à skip which seems to have been acceptable. Although I have since looked up that “skip” is owned by CTS EVENTIM AG & Co. KGaA in the context of online ticket sales. Will this be flagged? It is a trademark

I hope that a Googler can provide some context for this. From a user of an advert platform that is so big and influential, having processes that so heavily favour large businesses is a real kick in the shin.

If you are not interested in dried tasty snacks and have wood waste to burn and recycle into heat, get in touch.

Categories


Details

  • 15 September 2022
  • Alexander Franklin