We recently had a customer come to us with a trademark infringement issue online. A large, corporate competitor was utilizing their name in Meta data of their web site on different pages. In addition to infringement by the competitor, my customer’s name was a common use of words like “Cheap Auto Parts” that was stuffed in their competitor’s meta data. Our customer never “officially” trademarked their name, but had been able to show prior use of their name for almost 10 years online. Another interesting piece of evidence was that the competitor was also using other competitor names in meta to rank for their names in search.

Now, isn’t online trademark, copyright and litigation issues fun? Who really knows the answers?

Trademark Productions was retained for this case as a material witness and has been called in for others as well as technical software and SEO experts. This case in particular is very interesting and is still being played out.

Another court has ruled that a websites’ use of a competitor’s mark in meta tags can create a “likelihood of confusion” sufficient to support a trademark infringement claim under the Lanham Act. In Deltek, Inc., v. Iuvo Systems, Inc.  Software company Deltek alleged that competitor Iuvo had, among other things, infringed upon Deltek’s trademarks by using them in the meta tags of the iuvosystems.com website. Deltek sought a preliminary injunction against this and other uses of Deltek’s marks on Iuvo’s site. A federal court in Virginia granted Deltek’s motion, finding that Iuvo’s “use of Deltek’s trademarks as meta tags may … create a likelihood of confusion.” This case indicates that caution should be used when considering the use of a competitor’s mark in a website meta tag.

So if this is to be used as an example, it is my suggestion to be careful in how you tag your website code for optimization purposes. It is easy enough for an SEO Firm like ours to pick out meta data on a website and show where you could be misleading “internet traffic and search engines” to your website by using competitors trademarked terms.

4 responses to “Online Trademark Infringement Law Brief

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Posted by How One Business Used Google Plus to Fight Their Competition

[…] Close /**/ < Previous Post >Home / Google+ / How One Business Used Google Plus to Fight Their CompetitionHow One Business Used Google Plus to Fight Their Competition Conversations happen all the time and everywhere in social media.  Not all of these conversations have any value to most businesses, but if you can pinpoint the type of people you have your conversation with and ask them for relevant advice, the business value of the conversation can increase exponentially.  Participating in conversations is one way to develop business on LinkedIn.  There are also sites like Quora, Focus, or even public forums such as LinkedIn Answers and Facebook Questions where professionals (and others) are looking for the answers to their problems.  In fact just do a Twitter advanced search query for questions and you’ll see that there are people looking for answers to their problems everywhere.While the conversation that I am going to share below could have happened on any social media website, the stickiness, immediate responsiveness, integration with Gmail, and limitless character count at which you can input your thoughts makes Google Plus a great place to have deep and serious conversations.  Assuming you’ve created a Google Plus circle of, what I would call in my first LinkedIn book your “Trusted Network of Advisors,” you can now filter out who gets your message and only target those business people and colleagues that you trust to give you a solid answer.Nowto  the story of how one business used Google Plus to fight their competition.  The below conversation took place in the course of 24 hours.  No names are given to protect their privacy.Trademarks used in metatags: I noticed a competitor listing our company name (registered trademark) in their blog post metatags. Any thoughts on Intellectual Property precedence to discourage this/force them to take down?Several comments follow, and then 11 minutes later these two comments:Here’s an article that addresses the issue: https://www.tmprod.com/blog/2009/online-trademark-infringement-law-brief/Another: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/two-conflicting-judicial-opinions-on-using-a-competitors-trademark-in-metatagsMy following comment was 90 minutes after the original question:On legal issues, always best to talk to a trademark lawyer, especially if there is no precedence. They can always send a cease and desist letter on your behalf which may make them twice about doing that.Followed by another comment 4 hours later:I agree with Neal. The first time I ran into this was back in 1997 – the law at the time was weak, but precedence has grown since then.My unofficial, “I’m-not-a-lawyer-nor-do-I-play-one-on-TV” opinion is that the cease-and-desist is certainly in order – use of a competitor’s mark in meta tags might create a “likelihood of confusion” sufficient to support a trademark infringement claim under the Lanham Act. Reference cases:Deltek, Inc., v. Iuvo Systems, Inc.Brookfield Communications Inc. v. West Coast Entertainment Corp.22 hours after the original comment was posted the following message was received by all of the participants:I found that case too! We cited this case and others and sent email to competitor citing confusion in marketplace and how it could result in legal action trademark infringement… it worked. All metatags were removed and no lawyer fees paid. Cool. Thx all.While the conversation could have happened on any social media platform, no doubt that the functionality of Google Plus made it a perfect place to consult and receive advice in a private conversation in an efficient manner.  As the subject of this post commented after the fact,I was equally intrigued by the value of Google Plus in this situation – I posted comments in ecommerce groups in LinkedIn, also asked question on my profile in LinkedIn but no responses – in Google Plus I got immediate relevant feedback from my Marketing Professionals and Social Media VIP circles.Businesses invest dollars in social media monitoring software to see when their brand names or companies are mentioned for a wide range of objectives including, reputation management, customer support, and even finding business development opportunities.  Perhaps a similar investment in educating your employees to use the same communication tools that social media provides to consult with their own trusted networks could help your business in more ways than you can think – including finding ways to fight back at your competition while saving you money.Have you had similar experiences with Google Plus or other social media platforms where a question you asked or answered had tangible business benefits?  Please share your experiences with us! google_ad_client = "ca-pub-7284850702328431"; /* 336 x 280 Inside Blog Posts */ google_ad_slot = "1904859849"; google_ad_width = 336; google_ad_height = 280; // nRelate.domain = "windmillnetworking.com"; // /**/ /* […]

Posted on September 6, 2011 at 8:45 am

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Posted by How One Business Used Google Plus to Fight Their Competition | The Big G & Business

[…] Several comments follow, and then 11 minutes later these two comments: Here’s an article that addresses the issue: https://www.tmprod.com/blog/2009/online-trademark-infringement-law-brief/ […]

Posted on October 30, 2011 at 11:02 am

Posted by Russ Gazaway

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Posted on March 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Posted by Carmon Julias

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Posted on March 17, 2012 at 11:08 am

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