Nucleus' latest survey of UK travel companies' use of pay-per-click advertising to intercept search engine enquiries for their competitors confirms a dramatic escalation in incidents of 'brand interception' since 2005.

The results of the survey of 124 online tour operators, travel agencies and travel portals, conducted by Nucleus in May, in conjunction with trade mark attorneys Hallmark-ip, shows that more and more UK travel companies are having their brand names hijacked by competitors in pay-per-click advertising.

- Individual cases of brand interception grew a staggering 245%

- 60% of the sample are now intercepted by others, including direct competitors

- 23% of the sample actively intercept their competitors

- Only 11% of the sample have taken measures to protect themselves from brand interception

- More than half these 'protected' companies actually intercept others

Nucleus managing director, Peter Matthews, commented "The results go to show that brand interception is out of control in the online travel industry. More alarming still is to find that some of the most web savvy brands, who know enough to protect themselves from this practise, are some of the biggest interceptors of all."

Hallmark trade mark attorney, Nick Baker added "It's time that trade mark law caught up with current internet practise. We anticipate more cases to test whether this activity infringes registered trade marks or not and look forward to a clear ruling."