10 January 2008

You can't litigate your brand back

Social media marketing folks have said it for a while now - companies no longer "own" their brand online. Eric Goldman reports on a case where a company is actually suing to take it back:
My my, look who's decided to go back into court! It's none other than 1-800 Contacts, the online retailer with a lousy trademark and a love-hate relationship towards keyword advertising. This time their target is their chums LensWorld.com for buying "1800Contacts" as a keyword.
But I did find this interesting:
Ironically, 1-800 Contacts also has routinely bought third party trademarks as keywords.
This action sets some very dangerous precedents if the company is allowed to control these keywords. Of course, I see these actions as completely consistent - the company is consistently protecting its own interests. But what if a lawyer or a medical organization wants to get the word out about a faulty batch of contact lenses? Contextual ads are no longer an option if the company has its way.

Ultimately, this kind of action will only serve to elevate negative messaging in the non-sponsored search results in Google. So it's a Pyrrhic victory, if a victory at all.

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