Summary: Story implies that CPA affiliates are somehow "pilfering your brand through paid search". The premise goes: Type "Columbia House" at Google and see scores of sites using "Columbia House" (a trademarked term) to draw visitors to their affiliate site making money for leading people back to Columbia House. The problem is, as an affiliate of Columbia House, you need to describe the product/offering somehow and Columbia House wants you to beat the bushes for more people to bring to their door.
Years ago there was a domain dispute for Webergrills.com where a Weber dealer was taken through UDRP for assorted names by the manufacturer. The manufacturer lost because the dealer was given express authority under his licensing arrangement to advertise the Weber brand. Result, of that precedent? If you own HondaCars.com and you’re a Honda car dealer, you’re doing nothing wrong.
Are affiliate relationships relating to paid search really any different? If you sign up as an affiliate of Columbia House, is that ‘manufacturer’ not giving you express authority to promote their brand? This is a lot different than buying "Columbia House" keyword traffic and selling it to "itunes".
Where is the line relating to domain names? If you run a hypothetical business called DealerDomainNames.com and you’re in the business of supplying and managing domain-names to assorted manufacturer’s dealers (as your usual course of business), could you be acting in good-faith by holding a basket of trademark containing domain names for resale? Could you make a valid legal argument for keeping those names?
I don’t plan to push that envelope, but an interesting thought all the same.