Re: Meta Tags and trademarks

Subject: Re: Meta Tags and trademarks
From: "Huber, Mike" <mrhuber -at- SOFTWARE -dot- ROCKWELL -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 3 May 1999 11:47:21 -0400

Tim Altom [mailto:taltom -at- SIMPLYWRITTEN -dot- COM]

> >
> >The gist of it is, you can't do it, unless there is a
> legitimate reason. You can't put trademarked terms
> of a competitor in your meta tags for indexing your site
> unless you have been given the right to do it, or
> unless you make a legitimate reference to
> those trademarks in your content, as in making a direct comparison.
> I look forward to seeing this opinion. The NYT site was down
> when I tried it. It sounds as though this is a pretty restrictive ruling,
> and applies pretty much as it would for print. Interpeted too broadly,
> such a ban would play havoc with modern Web development, banning
> casual references in metadata to such trademarks as IBM, Fender,
> Microsoft, etc.
> And this is only applicable in the Ninth Circuit anyway.
> >

It struck me as a very reasonable ruling. If I want
to have my (for example only: I don't actually have a guitar site) guitar site
appear on searches for Fender, all I have to do is mention Fender in the visible
text. Not only does that make it legal to add "Fender" to my meta tags, it also
makes it more likely that a search engine will use those tags. And if I can't
work the trademark into my visible text, why should I have it in my meta tags?

What the court has done with the law reflects what several of the major search
engines have been doing with technology for quite a while, for different reasons.

Meta tags that cause search engines to locate pages that don't even discuss the
search term (trademark or not) reduce the value of the search engine. If I'm
searching on "Fender" I don't want to see your Gibson site unless you are also
discussing Fender guitars. Similarly, if I search on "maple" I don't want to see
your oak site unless it includes information on maples.

mike -dot- huber -at- software -dot- rockwell -dot- com
nax -at- execpc -dot- com

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