It's almost two weeks into Carnival Cruise Lines' 2010 policy barring travel agency partners from bidding on the line's several dozen trademarks, but travel agencies such as Travelocity, Cruise.com and cruisesonly.com, among others, still have sponsored links, triggered by keyword searches of Carnival trademarks, in major search engines.
For example, a Bing search for "Carnival Cruises" produces the following Travelocity ad:
And, this Cruises.com ad:
Similarly, a Google search for "The World's Most Popular Cruise Line," another Carnival trademark, triggers this ad from WorldCruises.com, a division of VacationsToGo.com:
And this ad from LuxuryOnly.com, which is part of World Travel Holdings:
Either some of these agencies aren't playing nice-nice with Carnival or something else is going on.
For its part, a spokeswoman for Carnival Cruise Lines says: "The new rules are in effect and we are in a transition period right now and are actively working with our agency partners to implement the policy change."
In addition to banning the bidding on Carnival trademarks, the new policy also has certain prohibitions when it comes to generic keywords.
One major online travel agency, whose sponsored links appeared last week in response to searches on Carnival trademarks, says it will no longer bid on the trademarks.
When asked about its stance, a Travelocity spokesman says: "It is our policy to respect the trademark rights of our suppliers. We also want to maximize our marketing effectiveness in order to drive incremental demand for the mutual benefit of us and our supplier partners."
Does that mean Carnival will have a problem with Travelocity on the sponsored link front?
And other agencies too?