A merchant has just asked:
I have an affiliate that just registered “trademarknameproducttype.com” and is going to start marketing our new [trademark name] product line. Is this acceptable? I know he’s doing marketing for us, however he’s using our trademarked name.
The intent of the above-quoted affiliate is obvious — to get the traffic which would search specifically for the merchant’s trademarked brand in combination with a popular keyword for the type of product. Keeping in mind that most search engines love keyword-rich domains [see this post and this poll, for example], the above scenario is really no different from trademark bidding in paid search. Just as it is with TM PPC bidding, the merchant should answer the following two simple questions:
- Does this affiliate marketing method add value?
- Can it generate incremental business/sales?
If the answer to any of the above two questions is negative, then there is no reason to allow this in your affiliate program. You also want to spell this restriction out in your program’s TOS.