BRAIN FOOD: Webspace rules - Taking your rival's name in vain

BRAIN FOOD: Webspace rules - Taking your rival's name in vain - Everyone wants to make their patch of cyberspace more popular, and coming out first on search engines such as AltaVista or Google is one way to do it. But this can lead to problems - just ask

by IAN JEFFERY, Lewis Silkin solicitors. e-mail:jefferyi@lewissilkin.com
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Everyone wants to make their patch of cyberspace more popular, and coming out first on search engines such as AltaVista or Google is one way to do it. But this can lead to problems - just ask anyone at computer firm Mandata, subject of a recent court case for using a rival's name in its web site's meta-tag.

Many search engines rely on meta tags - virtual labels that a site designer can fill with keywords describing the content of their site. But because they don't appear on-screen when the page is loaded, the temptation is to add the names of big competitors or even pop-culture icons to your tag in order to drive up traffic.

Buzzwords are one thing, but using a competitor's name or that of a major celebrity could put you at the business end of a court application. Trade mark infringement, thought the court in Mandata's case. Some learned friends aren't so sure about that, but it makes sense to tread carefully for now.

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