Company Loses Competitor Keywords In Metatags Dispute

Judge rules use in commerce

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In a reversal of what is generally considered the real world and what is virtual, metatags suddenly matter in a court of law, even if they haven’t mattered online for some time now. For one defendant, they matter as much as just under a half-million dollars matters.

Dropping keywords into the metatags of a website is an old school SEO technique. And by old school I mean pre-googlistoric. Stuffing metatags in the age of Google, which ignores them, is about as useful as peacock feathers on an armadillo.

Even so, McGills Glass Warehouse owes Venture Tape Corp. $426, 487 in damages in and attorney fees (not to mention five years of its own litigation costs) because they dropped Venture Tape’s trademark in the metatags, dressed in white on white, which did basically nothing to drive to traffic to the website.

A competitor’s trademark as a keyword in the metatag is intended to lure competitor traffic. White text on white background is an attempt to hide the practice. This last element, at least in part, seems to be what really stuck in the judge’s craw.

In addition, the judge decided using trademark keywords counts as a use in commerce, which has been debated for some time, and that McGills had satisfied 7 out of 8 conditions in determining infringement, the remaining unsatisfied condition being one of actual consumer confusion—apparent intent to confuse would seem to suffice.

Despite what happens in the courts eventually (it’s not looking good for defendants, though), blawger Eric Goldman, who’s written extensively on the trademark in metatags issue, advises webmasters just to steer clear of the practice. Too big a risk for so little reward. 

Company Loses Competitor Keywords In Metatags Dispute
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  • http://www.data-cabling.blogspot.com/ Mike Belletty – Data cabling Engineer UK

    Isn’t this blackhat SEO?

    • http://bestvetstore.com/vetjobs/ vetweb

      Yes, i think so

      But google smarter than ever, they’ll get banned later..

  • http://election.dos.state.fl.us/cgi-bin/CandHtml.exe?account=42457&elecid=20061107-GEN Peter Monroe

    Well, it sort of is black hat seo, but it doesn’t do a thing at all nowdays.  Like the article says, google completely ignores them.

  • http://www.urbanmedia.co.uk seo company

    I am always tempted but its not very nice when its on the other foot so i never go through with it. The only thing is when someone tries to do it to my clients it can literally take forever for Google to consider the webmasters spam report… if they ever do!? perhaps i should just advise my clients to threaten their competitors with taking them to court!

  • http://www.mtuba4u.co.za Mtuba4u

    First off those that say Google ignores meta tags are confusing the issue, because Google does use the Metatag input that you supply in their algorythm, the issue is how does it add value.

    Second if You use a word in the meta tags but do not use the words within the content of the page, you may be in for a surprise, and you will find yourself droping in the search order.

    So if you use your competitors name in the meta tags but not in you page you are shooting yourself in the foot, as you will find some negative juice being used to dilute your hard earned positive points from googles algorythm.

    Positive points are earned in many ways that will seem strange and confusing, as this include things like

    • lingustic appeal
    • lingusitic corectness
    • spelling
    • word flow orders
    • html lay out and correctness of spacing lay outs and visual appeal
    • defined target market goups in relation to words used

    and these have nothing to do with the actual content which the end user sees when looking at his / her screen.

    Then of course there is the issue of inbound links which is the real points multiplier, especialy when google can connect both the out going linkand the incomming link to other pages within each web site, and can determine that the recieving page is actualy an authority on the subject matter within the link anchor text.

    so if your competitor scores high for certain key words on a specific page and you link your page to that page, you may be in for a pleasant surprise and score much higher in the SERP’s and you will need to evaluate just how much you have gained, and whether your competitor has also recieved an added bonus or not. 

    these things need deep evaluation, but at all times remember that cheating will be punished when caught out, and that this punishment by Google and other search engines is not short lived, but remains part of your sites historical evidence, which is used extensively by the search engines algorythms. in some cases site owners have actualy abandoned specific domains once caught out for cheating on SEO as the search engines have banned these sites from their data bases, and in some extreme  cases even banned those who refer to them.

    Using white on white isan obvious hide away technique that has long been considered ilegal and improper by search engines, so I am surprised at the case in point, and kind of woried about the impications. 

  • http://www.sourcesurge.com SEO website design

    I would love to see the SEO who got fired over that one. I can see the boss now, because I bet a million it didn’t work. Hidden keywords to boot, man that guy must have done seo pre-google and believed that crap still worked.

    You’ll be amazed at how many people still put in competetiors keywords within the meta tag, that is a common real estate seo trait I’ve seen for years.

  • http://www.m4s73r.com Lowongan Kerja Bank

    maybe blackhat.. 

  • http://clearblogs.com/lenen Lenen

    If they don’t know that metatag keywords are irrelevant technologically,they deserve it to be penalized for stuff like this.

  • http://www.spanishseo.org/about-spanish-seo/augusto/ SEO Specialist

    It’s been pretty common for many companies, afiliates and other people do use their competitors keywords. However, from that point to make something dumb like this, well, they deserve what they are getting punished for.

  • Wart Removal

    Wow, talk about using ancient tactics in optimization!

  • http://www.articlesdb.co.cc Article Directory

    So many rules

  • http://www.hypotheektest.nl Hypotheek

    White text on white background? Metatag keywords? Feels like it’s 1998 all over again. They deserve to be penalized if they don’t even know that metatags have little to no impact on where a site will appear in the search results.

  • http://www.pr-interactive.com fl web design

    Great article

    Check out my Florida web design company

  • http://www.hypotheek-aanvragen.nl/index.html Hypotheek

    A heat of black….

  • http://www.allehypotheekinformatie.nl Hypotheek

    if they ever do!? perhaps i should just advise my clients to threaten their competitors with taking them to court!

  • http://twente.jouwpagina.nl Twente

    If someone has nothing to hide, this person doesn’t need Tags on his website that look like […White text on white background as an attempt to hide the practice. ]
    So I agree with the final statement that […Erik Goldman…advises webmasters just to steer clear of the practice. Too big a risk for so little reward. ] Regards, Chris

  • http://www.moovinonup.com seo

    I have heard some stupid stuff but this is very stupid

  • http://www.clickroutes.com seo company buckinghamshire

    next we’ll be seeing the use of meta keywords as the main ranking factors !!

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