Keyword Advertising In The Clear

    January 9, 2007

The issue of using trademarks in keyword advertising has been resolved (at least for now). According to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, “you may use trademarks when buying search ads. Just don’t use the names in actual ads that consumers will see.”

That quote is actually Deborah Richman’s explanation of the ruling – her version is mercifully shorter. The original 16-page court document is available here, though, if you feel like wading through a bit of legalese. Close readers will note, as Richman did, that “the Court also ruled on something that’s completely pass: it’s okay to insert trademarks in your meta tags which are also invisible to consumers.”

Advertisers should regard the main ruling as “a big win,” according to law professor Eric Goldman. He did have some reservations, however. “Given the inconsistencies of past rulings, I simply don’t believe that this case will be the final word on the matter. However, if other courts follow this conclusion, we would see a reduction in the quantity of silly litigation over keyword advertising and keyword metatags.”

Techdirt’s Mike Masnick raised some similar issues. “Every few months it seems like we have another lawsuit of this nature,” he noted, “and with different courts coming to totally different conclusions, it’s likely that this is going to continue for some time.”

Mike does, however, seem to feel that it’s a step in the right direction. “This is the right reasoning, and it’s good to see yet another court figure it out,” he continued. “There are still likely to be more suits along these lines, but the more reasonable decisions lawyers can point to, the better.”


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Doug is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest eBusiness news.