One should take care when setting up to a web site.
The Net user must clearly transported from Â your site to the linked site, rather than having the linked site imported into your own website, Â otherwise you may run the risk of being faced with an action of trademark infringement or passing Â off. Â What is a meta tag? Â A meta tag will be used by a search engine to describe the content of the website. There will be Â keywords that are contained in the meta tag which is used to index the web site. Thus, following a Â search request, these keywords are used by the search engine to find out about the site. Â The meta tag will be invisible to those who are browsing the web site. Nevertheless, it is Â possible to seethe meta tag by using internet browser software. Thus, looking in the “source” Â section under the “view” menu” of the Internet Explorer will show the surfer the meta tag that is Â being used for that particular web site. Â Web sites will incorporate as many keywords as possible so that search engines will match the site Â as highly relevant. Â Search engines like AltaVista and Lycos, recognise the difficulties with searching on the basis of Â meta tags and do not increase ratings on the basis of meta tags. Â Similarly others may infringe your trademark by increasing ratings on the search engine by putting Â key words on the front page of a website in the same colour as the background. Some of the search Â engines read the front page of a web site rather than its meta tags and will therefore recognise Â those keywords. Â UK case law. Â The first major UK case to look at the issue of trademark infringement by way of using meta tags Â in the case of Road Tech Computer Systems v. Mandata. Â Here the court ruled that a trademark is a trademark even if it can only be read by a computer. Â This case was the first to indicate how the law will approach the issue of meta tag abuse. Â In this case, Mandata had incorporated its major competitors trademark in their web site as a meta Â tag, which, as a result, attracted their site to surfers when interested in the rivals brand. In a Â summary judgement Road Tech was awarded the amount of Â£15,000 damages and costs estimated in the Â region of Â£80,000 for trademark infringement and passing off. Mandata had also given the Â undertaking that it would cease to continue diverting business from their main competitors. The Â High Court had criticised the blatant infringement of Road Tech’s intellectual property rights. Â The most recent case of trademark abuse by unlawfully using a meta tag was in the case of Reed Â Executive plc v. Reed Business Information Ltd. Â Reed (the employment agency) brought a claim for trademark infringement and passing off against Â Reed (the publishers). The Defendant established a web site totaljobs.com in order to advertise Â job vacancies. The meta tags used by the site included “Reed Business Information” and “Reed” in a Â banner advertisement through the Yahoo! site. The entry in the web directory referred to the site Â as being provided by Reed Business Information. (Both companies had been using the name Reed for Â 30 years or more). Â Pumfrey J said Â activities infringed s 10(2) [similar mark – similar goods but could not decide if it infringed Â s10(1). The use of a trademark as part of meta tag was trademark use because it resulted in the Â website being treated in a manner only appropriate to a website owned by the trademark owner – Â thus use could amount to infringement and passing off use of Reed (albeit invisibly) to trigger Â banner advertising constituted infringement and passing off. The defendants could not rely on Â s11(2) [own name defence] because use of its name on a website did not accord with honest practice Â in that jobseekers were being deceived into believing its was the claimants site and the defence Â was not available because of the invisible nature of the meta tag. Â Maintaining Vigilance of Meta Tag Abuse. Â It is important that you regularly monitor for meta tag abuse and unauthorised use of your Â trademark and ensure that custom is not being unlawfully diverted to your competitors. It is Â important that you ensure that your trademark is registered to facilitate any action that you may Â wish to take against others infringing such right through meta tag abuse. Â It is important that you take the following action: Â
* Check whether your site links to other sites, and if so, ensure that you have the appropriate Â permission. Â * Check whether your meta tag consist of any traders trademarks or unregistered brands. If you Â do, ensure that they are removed. Â * Check at regular intervals to see whether your brands are being used by competitors to attract Â business to their sites. If they are, consider objecting and requesting the removal of the Â infringing tags. You have the backing of Road Tech and the Reed case. Â * Appoint an officer within your business and ensure that they review your website regularly and Â keep up to date with the sites content. Â Â Â Â