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Meta tags & trademark infringement

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Thursday April 10, 2008 )

If you’re using someone else’s trademark in your meta tags and particularly one of a competitor – watch out; it may land you in court.

Two medical companies recently duked it out in a USA court over the issue and the court concluded that the defendant’s use of the plaintiff’s trademark in their tags constituted trademark infringement. While there appears to be a lot of grey areas and missing information in the case, Eric Goldman who is the Assistant Professor and Director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University advises:

a) If you have someone else doing your SEM work, make sure you review the description tags they have used and run it by a lawyer if there’s any doubt.

b) Competitive trademarks should not appear in keyword metatags – ever.

On a somewhat related note – be very careful also in using trademarked terms in Pay Per Click – that can also cause you legal hassles; particularly in a bait and switch scenarion where you bid on a competitors trademark and send them to a site of a different brand. The take on this is that it creates “consumer confusion,” which can be seen as trademark infringement. Most of the PPC outfits such as Google and Yahoo! also have strict guidelines on trademark term bidding.

You can read a bit more about this topic here: Pay-Per-Click Trademark Marketing and Infringement.


Not using meta tags? Aren’t sure what they are? Learn more about the Importance of Meta tags

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1 comment for Meta tags & trademark infringement
  1. White Hat is the way to go. Why even get involved with shades of gray.

    How much work and time is it going to take to go through all of those meta tags and remove trademarks. It’s just not worth it.

    Comment by Troy Duncan — April 10, 2008 @ 8:40 am

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