Google announced a change yesterday to its AdWords trademark policy in 190 countries, bringing that policy in line with its policies for the US, CA, UK & IE.

Trademark Bidders (New Countries that Google will now allow TradeMark Bidding in)

The full list of 190 countries affected can be found in Google’s announcement:

regions-for-which-google-will-not-investigate-the-use-of-trademarks-as-keywords-adwords-help_1241541979753

Countries like Japan, South Africa, Israel, India and Mexico now have a much different competitive landscape.

Google already had the most permissive trademark policy of the three search engines in the US and Canada and this policy shift marks a radical departure from Google’s prior international trademark policy.  Previously, the countries that Google allowed trademark bidding in were the exception (there were just 4).  Now, the reverse is true:  Google prevents trademark bidding in only a handful of countries.

Countries where trademark bidding is still prohibited

The countries where Google still prevents bidding on trademarked terms include many European countries as well as countries that are probably either too controversial to mention or too small to matter.  A selected list of countries that Google prevents trademark bidding in is below:

Australia Cyprus Hungary New Zealand South Korea
Austria Czech Republic Iceland Norway Spain
Bahamas Denmark Italy Poland Sweden
Belgium Finland Lithuania Portugal Switzerland
Brazil France Luxembourg Romania Taiwan
Bulgaria Germany Macau Slovakia
China Greece Netherlands Slovenia

This list contains a number of countries that Google is embroiled in trademark lawsuits in (France, etc). I think that Google is taking a cautious approach with these countries, but it is clear in which direction Google would like the policies to move – fewer restrictions. I would expect to see either much smaller individualized policy moves in each of these countries.

In the meantime, this change takes affect on June 9, 2009.