Counterfeiters Using Google Adwords is a Big Problem


Randy Pickard made a guest post on Search Engine Land that took a look at all the counterfeiters buying ads on Google that trick consumers into buying knock off goods.

The article looked at a few categories, one being prom dresses.

From the article:

Among the websites buying AdWords sponsored ads for [prom dress] related terms, approximately half of these websites are filled with copyright-infringing photos of designer dresses.

The prom and special-occasion dress product categories are target rich for counterfeiters. A common occurrence is for a teenage girl to come into a boutique, look at a designer dress, and then “showroom” the boutique by searching on Google. There, they discover links to offshore online stores with photos of (what appears to be) the exact same dress — selling for less than half the price.

Of course, the result of buying a cheap prom dress from an offshore retailer is fairly similar to that of buying a “rolex” from a New York street peddler. When the dress arrives (if it does arrive), there are lots of tears flowing from the naive teenager buyer who wanted a special dress for her special night.

The consequences of counterfeiters utilizing AdWords to rip off naïve buyers is having a ripple effect that is hitting special-occasion dress retailers particularly hard. Google’s lax filtering of counterfeiters victimizes both teenage girls preparing for prom and fashion retailers’ whose businesses are losing hundreds of thousands of sales per year.

Read the full story here

Pickard summed it up asking,

Going back to the original question in this post: Is Google “evil” for not doing a better job filtering out counterfeiters? The search engine giant proved that they have the capability to do so in the case of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Should Google be expected to put a stronger effort into blocking counterfeiters in order to meet the standards set by their code of conduct?

Google actually has a place where you can check on what is being reported as far as copyright takedown requests.

The Google Transparency report shows stats such as the top reported sites The domain names for URLs that were requested to be removed. Each request can specify many URLs and many URLs may have the same domain name.

It also shows the top companies doing the reporting. You can check out the page here


  1. says

    If allowing these counterfeiters to use adwords will make them money then Google will do nothing until forced to do so. Just as Google allows companies to infringe on others trademarks when bidding in Adwords. They call it “creating competition” and ” that the search user entering the exact trademark for product or site … “actually wants to see choices”. I’ll need to find the article but it was estimated that Google earns 7% of adwords revenue from people bidding on trademarks other than their own. Their logic is why prevent it and lose the profit when they can just say it’s not their place to police this … to contact those parties bidding on the infringing TM keywords. Point being … as with adwords … unless Google is cornered to do something they will do nothing and keep profiting. “Don’t be Evil” motto went away with going public.

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