Friday, June 15, 2007
Meta Tags May Infringe Upon Trademarks
Meta tags are invisible terms embedded into the code of websites. Many search engines mark pages based upon meta tags. Although search engines have devalued the importance of meta tags due to the prevalence of google bombing, the use of infringing meta tags may improperly elevate a website's search results rank. In Brookfield Communications v. West Coast Entertainment, 174 F.3d 1036 (9th Cir. 1999), the Ninth Circuit held that initial interest confusion caused by meta tags may establish trademark infringement. The lesson to pull from this is that when it comes to meta tags, even if there is no actual consumer confusion once an offending site is viewed, courts may find infringement based upon a consumer's initial confusion in clicking on the site's link on a search result page.