Despite virulent criticism, Google plans to allow firms to bid for the trade names of their competitors as advertising keywords, BusinessWeek reports. For example: Dell (Nasdaq: DELL ) could bid to have its ads appear when users search for "HP" or "Hewlett-Packard."
That's not evil? In what universe?
In effect, Google is throwing a big, juicy bone to digital squatters, the sort of e-scum who make a profit from snagging website addresses of major companies or celebrities in the hope of selling them for a huge profit.
Now, thanks to Google, not even search is safe. Legitimate, upstanding firms will be forced into bidding wars to protect their brands when trademark keywords go up for sale around the world on June 4.
"Following a global legal review, we have made the changes in countries whose legal and business practices are consistent with making the change," Google spokesman Ben Novick told BusinessWeek in an email.
As a Google shareholder, I expect the company to make good on its promises. "Don't be evil" is one of them -- a not-terribly nuanced jibe at Big Goo's principal rival, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) . You can do that when you're the market leader. You can make fun of Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) and IAC's (Nasdaq: IACI ) Ask.com ... all the while dangling cash from this surely legal but entirely despicable trademark keyword business.
Don't be evil? Look in the mirror, Google. Your horns are showing.
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