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Get sued for trademark term



2:22 pm on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hello Guys,

If i were to optimized for thousands of trademark terms say "blue widgets" for adsense revenue and I placed a disclaimer that says "This site is in no way affiliated with blue widgets or any of its trademarks, copyrights, or patents. The information provided here on blue widgets is not endorsed, solicitied, paid-for, owned-by, or in any way encouraged by the owners of the trademarks and or copyrights of blue widgets. " . Would the company involved still be able to take legal action if I am based in Hong Kong? Besides that, how would they find out who registered the domain since i use whois protection?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 10:20 pm (utc) on July 19, 2005]
[edit reason] widgetized [/edit]


10:06 pm on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

At the WebmasterWorld conference in New Orleans, one of the speakers talked about domains and the whois protection. He said that you should not rely on this to protect you, as any lawyer could easy get around it. And he should know, he is one.

As for your other questions, I don't know the answer. But certainly do not expect the whois privacy to protect you.


10:17 pm on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

There are ways you can use trademarks as long as you acknowledge the real owner, and there are ways you can't.

If you're really concerned, seek the advice of an intellectual property attorney. If you don't have the cash, there are probably better places than webmasterworld to find the answer you seek.


10:35 pm on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

There's nothing wrong with reviewing Blue Widgets, though. Not your fault if your reviews start ranking.


12:15 am on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think reviews would be OK. What would get you in trouble is using the trademark to earn money. I believe playboy sued altavista way back when they were allowing adult webmasters to advertise on that keyword. If I remember correctly, the courts found that altavista was violating playboy's trademark.

Google adwords disapproved one of my ads that said I was a former engineer of a company I really did used to work for. Pissed me off no end, as I don't see how I could get work in that area unless I said I was.

I think you could CYA if you had reviews of products by competing widget companies. If it were obvious that you were specifically targeting a keyword that was a trademark, I think that would get you in trouble.


1:08 am on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks for all your feedback guys.

What if i just place google adsense ads on them? Besides that, can't i just place a fake address in the whois address?


1:56 am on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think using a fake address is a good way to get the manufacturer of Blue Widgets to hire a private detective to track down your real address.

"How may I violate the law without getting caught" is not the correct question. The correct question is "How may I use the trademarked term 'Blue Widget' on my website in such a way that I do not infringe the trademark" is the correct question.

There are many ways you can use a trademark without violating the law, and I think at this point you need to consider whether your business model is a valuable one if it means it will expose you to legal liability that can force you into bankrupcy.

I think you need to be asking an attorney for legal advice, not the trolls at webmasterworld. How about this: go ask the attorney if it would be OK if you register your domain with a fake address so the trademark owner's process server can't serve a complaint on you. When he's done laughing, he'll present you with a bill for a lot more than the free advice I'm giving you now.

There is a legal principle called "estoppel". Try a google search or look it up in a dictionary. The way it applies to trademarks is that it means that if a trademark holder doesn't take legal action to stop trademark infringement, then they lose all rights to the trademark.

How much do you think it's worth to the owner of the Blue Widgets trademark not to lose their most valuable intellectual property? I think it's worth a lot, certainly worth enough to them to pay a private detective enough that he'll do what it takes to haul you into court.

Of course, that will be after they send a cease-and-desist letter to Google telling them they must stop serving adsense ads for blue widgets to your site. I think that alone will be enough to convince google to kick you out of adsense. Google has very deep pockets these days, but they could be emptied quickly by the wrong kind of lawsuit.

Here's a valuable tip, my friend. Rather than hunting for the legendary twenty-dollar keyword, either develop a website about your hobby, or, if you don't have a hobby, go find one and then develop a website about it. It's much easier to own the I'm Feeling Lucky spot at google for a niche keyword than to even make the top ten for a competitive one.

And it will keep you out of trouble with the law.


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