BRAIN FOOD: Webspace rules - Online trademark trap

BRAIN FOOD: Webspace rules - Online trademark trap - As webmasters search for their next hit, a growing number of optimisation techniques have been developed to increase web site traffic. Common techniques include metatags and reserving certain terms with

by IAN JEFFERY, a partner of Lewis Silkin Solicitors:mailto:ian.jeffery@lewissilkin.com

As webmasters search for their next hit, a growing number of optimisation techniques have been developed to increase web site traffic. Common techniques include metatags and reserving certain terms with search engines. But without due care and attention, extra traffic could drive straight over your toes. A recent court case concerning the trademark 'REED' established that using someone else's trademark, even in an 'invisible' metatag, can amount to an infringement - particularly if the metatag doesn't 'tell the truth' about the site. Banner or pop-up ads triggered by the use of a trademark reserved with a search engine can also infringe that mark.

Even using your own company or product name could land you in trouble - if the trademark has been registered by another party and you can be shown to be aware of the risk of deception. This doesn't mean avoiding innovative optimisation techniques, but even optimists should look both ways.

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