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Case List: Metatagging and Trademark Infringement

What are Metatags?

A ‘Metatag’ is a term embedded in the source code of a website so that it can be identified by search engines when users selected terms that referred to the chosen metatag. It has become a usual practice for a lot of Website to use third parties’ trademarks as metatags, so as to appear at the top of search results. An extreme case of meta-tagging can be ‘cyber stuffing’ which means the manipulative practice of repeating keywords numerous times in a website’s metatags so as to grab the attention of search engines and lure visitors.

The issue with metatags is whether the selection of a third party’s trademark as a keyword constitutes a trademark infringement, or whether it is considered as “fair use”.


Cases in United States

  • Playboy Enterprises, Inc. vs. Calvin Designer Label, 985 F.Supp. 1220 (N.D.Cal. 1997);
  • Playboy Enterprises, Inc. vs. Welles, 7 F. Supp.2d. 1098 (S.D. Cal.), aff’d 162 F.3d 1169 (9th Cir. 1998);
  • Playboy Enterprises, Inc. vs. Asia Focus International & Internet Promotions, 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10459 (E.D. Va. 1998);
  • Niton Corp. vs. Radiation Monitoring Devices, Inc., 27 F. Supp. 2d 102 (D. Mass. 1998)
  • Brookfield Communications vs. West Coast Entertainment, 174 F.3d 1036 (9th Cir. 1999);
  • Playboy Enterprises Inc. vs. Netscape Communications Corp., 2000 WL 1308815 (C.D. Cal.);

Cases in India

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