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Growing a business to a profitable stage is a remarkable feat in itself. Any small business owner reading this will attest to that fact. Maintaining the profitability of your business, protecting it and growing it are further challenges that you know and realise only too well.

Along that road, as owners or employees, we work hard to get our products and services to market. In my career experience it has always been my goal to get products and services to market in as honest and as deliberate a fashion that I can. The concept of business ethics is important, otherwise we have no moral base to build our business community and expect to trade with those that we trust to promise to pay when invoiced.

Doing business is based on a huge amount of trust. I’m sure you already know that. The amounts in question will vary from business to business. Some work on slim margins so every penny counts, others are more fortunate and can afford some slippage here and there.

What happens when the largest competitor in your industry begins to stalk you online and use your trademarked name in an advertising campaign.

Where’s ethics? Where’s the sense of fair play?

According to Google, ‘Advertisers can use a trademarked term within ad text if they are authorized, meaning that the trademark owner sent Google the necessary form allowing an advertiser’s particular account to use a certain term.’ However, a few paragraphs down the line, they drop the bombshell, ‘Google will not investigate or restrict the use of trademark terms in keywords, even if a trademark complaint is received.’

I wrote to Santiago Solanas, the CMO at SAGE. They employ 13,380 people in 24 countries. I asked Santiago to stop as he was infringing the copyright of the trademarked Big Red Cloud name. According to Mr. Solanos, ‘Sage’s acquisition and use of any Google AdWords is always undertaken in accordance with legitimate commercial practices and the threat made in your earlier email is entirely without foundation.’

I’m Michael O’Brien, Marketing Manager at Big Red Cloud. We employ 22 people and are proud to sell accounting software to small businesses in Ireland and the UK. I believe in ethics and fair play and would never countenance using another company’s name without permission.

When you can’t fight the good fight what options are left open to you? Who do you turn to when the bully in the room has longer arms and deeper pockets?

I’m turning to the many business associates I’ve met and built steadfast relationships with over the years. I’m asking you to share this story so that other small business owners can see there is another way to fight the fight.

You take one punch and you get back up only to discover the bully has also taken over Bing.

Another punch, and you realise that the bully is also over on Yahoo.

Please take a minute and Google, Bing and Yahoo ‘Big Red Cloud’ and click, if not for me, then for fair play!

I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom which are quite apt for the current situation I find myself in.

If ethics are poor at the top, that behavior is copied down through the organization Robert Noyce, inventor of the silicon chip

The time is always right to do what is right  Martin Luther King, American leader of civil rights movement and Nobel Peace Prize winner

It’s ironic, the Free Dictionary has Sage listed as ‘one venerated for experience, judgment, and wisdom.’ When was the last time you thought the name of a company was totally misplaced and out of kilter.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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