Google is promising a few improvements to its online ad system to help stop the spate of advertisers hawking counterfeit items.
In a blog posted yesterday, the search giant tallied the number of advertisers using AdWords at more than 1 million spread across at least 190 different countries. As a result, finding specific accounts that advertise phony products can be a challenge. Google was able to shut down around 50,000 such accounts just in the second half of 2010, but the company admits that more needs to be done.
To help stop the proliferation of fake items sold through AdWords, Google is promising three new improvements to its online ad system.
Offering an online form in which brand owners can file complaints over counterfeit goods, Google now says it will respond to such complaints within 24 hours.
The company is also pledging to do a better job of catching AdSense ads that link to phony items. AdSense allows other companies to earn revenue by placing Google ads on their own Web sites. Specifically, Google says it will work more closely with brand owners to catch advertisers who don't play by the rules and will kick them off the AdSense program.
Finally, Google has set up a new help page for people to read the policies against counterfeit goods and report complaints over different types of abuse.
Over the years, Google has been the target of lawsuits by brand owners upset about the use of certain keywords in AdWords, in part arguing that such a policy allows non-brand owners to more easily advertise counterfeit products. Google has always maintained that it works with brand owners and is quick to clamp down on any misuse of its ad system.
Following a series of lawsuits, Google was in a suit filed by luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton and other companies. The European Court of Justice found that Google was not liable for violating the trademarks of advertisers by offering keywords identical to those trademarks. But the court did find that Google is obligated to remove such ads if the brand owners complain that their rights have been violated.