Trademark Infridgement

Planning to incorporate a competitor’s trademark into your pay per click campaign, meta tags, or search engine optimized services? I recommend against it.

Some still consider the Internet to be the wild west, where basically you can get away with anything provided you don’t caught. Although in many cases, businesses are getting away with trademark infringement, eventually they will caught.

This posting is spurred by the recent announcement that Google may not be entirely out of hot water with French courts over Median hotel and trademark infringement. Google has already addressed the concern last year with their agreement to nix the use of trademarked terms, however, the current issue has to do with the suggestion of optimal advertising terms; “that the judge was particularly concerned that Google’s own keyword suggestion engine was putting the Meridian trademark up as one of the optimal targeting terms. The wrote that the settlement suggestion was not good enough; that Google must somehow also change its suggestion engine.”

Similarly, in Calgary my company faces the consent battle of reporting to Yellow Pages Group on companies that are using the Yellow Pages trademark.

So, how can this affect your business, here in Calgary?

Beware of companies that suggest it is a good idea to place trademark terms in your web site, either on the front end code or the back end code. I recently came across a deposit services company in Calgary, who is really trying to establish itself in the market place, that employed a search engine optimization company and their code is littered with what could potentially be infringements on trademarks. When I prompted the organization as to whether they had approval from all the companies to use their trademarks, the comment back to me was, this is what our search engine guy did.

To me, this is a very scary situation. Now, I am not a lawyer, but this could pose a problem as more and more organizations have legal departments dedicated to seeking our companies who infringe on their trademarks. Can your business afford to defend a lawsuit? Are having these keywords in your “keyword” meta tag search string really going to bring you in more business than what the potential legal costs of doing this are? If you business has legal advice for other aspects of your business, why would you rely on a search engine guy’s advice when it comes to Internet law?

The reality with this deposit company in Calgary, if they do get sued, I bet you their search engine optimizer will have nothing to do with helping them defend themselves in court.