Travel brand hijacking doubles (Press Release)

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Travel brand hijacking doubles (Press Release)

Brand hijacking doubles in difficult travel market, Nucleus reports

21 September 2009: 80% of the travel operators surveyed in Nucleus’ latest study of brand interception in the UK travel industry were victims of brand interception, or brand hijacking, where one online advertiser pays to intercept search enquiries for a competitor brand, often using their brand name in the text of the ad.

Nucleus’ findings, published today in The Great Online Holiday Hijack 2009 – The Gloves Come Off, illustrates the combined effects of Google relaxing its trade mark policy in May 2008, introducing self regulation for trade mark owners, combined with the dire market conditions. In this latest study of 124 online tour operators, travel agencies and travel providers, Nucleus found that:

80% of the brands surveyed were victims of brand interception (up from 67% in the last survey in May 2008)

The total number of individual interception attempts more than doubled since the previous survey (467 attempts in 2009 up from 202 attempts in 2008)

22% of
all interception attempts contained the victim’s brand name in the content of the advertisement (up from 17% in 2008)

23% of the sample appeared to actively intercept other brands in the survey (up from 13% in 2008) 
39% of the sample bid on their own brand name (down from 45% in 2008)

Peter Matthews, Nucleus’ managing director, commented: “The survey data clearly shows that a rapidly increasing number of surveyed operators, or their agencies, are resorting to using their competitors’ brand names as keyword triggers for their own Google AdWord campaigns and more and more are using the brand names in the ads themselves. This is often an infringement of trade mark rights, but in tough market conditions, it would seem that anything goes. The gloves have come off in the travel sector.”

Francis Preedy, senior trade mark attorney at leading intellectual property firm Hallmark-ip, added “In a self-regulating market, it pays to watch who is abusing your intellectual property, by using trade mark and online watching services. The only way you can stop competitor brands feeding off your reputation is to know what’s going on and then enforce your trade mark rights.”

The full report is available free at


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