Search Engines Invite New Problems

Thompson, Cindy
March 2004
Marketing Management;Mar/Apr2004, Vol. 13 Issue 2, p52
This article addresses legal issues on search engines and Internet marketing. Research by Jupiter Media shows that 93% of search engine users don't look past the first two pages of search results. That creates intense competition, as any organization using its Web site to create demand for goods, services or ideas wants to be as high in search rankings as possible. It also creates a new kind of trademark dispute. Potential violation of the law occurs when companies or individuals use sponsored links or metatags that include a competitor's trademarked terms in order to divert search traffic to their own site. Courts have held that the use of a trademark in a competitor's metatags to gain preferred search result placement can constitute trademark infringement, creating a developing field of case law. The positioning of sponsored links on a search results page helps determine the likelihood of confusion. This varies among search engines. As case law continues to evolve, all Web users should be wary of the information their searches uncover and be prepared to defend the integrity of information they have posted.


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