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Using another Company's Name on my Site

legal issue

     
4:39 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

I have a site about car rentals and I have pages that are optimized for all the major firms. I make my money from adsense.

Today I got an email from one car rental company telling me that I either had to remove all references to their company or make them all into hot links to their site.
The letter ended by saying that if I didn't comply in 30 days the matter would be sent to their legal department.

I could almost understand if they asked me to remove the references to their company, but that they were okay with them if I linked to their company site, seemed a bit tacky to me.

I'd love to hear if anyone else has had experience like this. I assumed that it was fine to use a company name on my site, but maybe that is naive?

Thanks for any ideas or thoughts.

Jon

4:54 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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For many years we have used the names of most major car rental companies on our travel site. Its never been a problem as we send them business through affiliate relationships, but not directly.

You may wish to consult an attorney, or save the $$$ and just link to them. See if they have affiliate relationships so that your links can make you money, many do...

also, don't use their names in meta tags... big no-no

5:35 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Speak to the police and ask them whether it is illegal.

plank999

5:47 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Why are meta tags a no-no? What about title tags!
6:02 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Meta tags are a no-no because it can be construed as trademark infringement. You are not talking about your relationship in meta tags, but are trying to get the search engines to find you.

So if you put "Hertz Car Rentals" in your title or description, it could be misleading as the site is not owned or operated by Hertz. You should get permission for this in writing or they can go after you...

In the body copy on your page you can say such things as "find Hertz Car rentals using our search engine" and it would be obvious to the casual visitor that you are not Hertz.

7:06 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Alrighty, everyone who's not a lawyer stop giving legal advice.
7:41 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Lawman, just giving my real world experience... never claimed to be a lawyer, but I have had to deal with them on these issues....
7:42 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I apologize if I overstepped my bounds....
8:52 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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<disclaimer>I'm not a lawyer</disclaimer>

had the same thing happen to me, or rather, to a former employer. A major pharmaceutical company made a similar request. They wanted us to remove all references to their drug.

I'm sure what sparked it was that our page - a medical article written by a prominent surgeon - was ranking higher in Google than they were.

We did not remove the drug name or company's name from our page. nor did we even offer to link to their site. Instead we put an asterisk* beside their name in the copy linked to a footnote showing the proper trademark citation. Having made those changes, we replied to their lawyers and asked them to review the site again. They never replied. The matter went away.

-----------
* CorpoDrugLord is a registered trademark of Nazi Pharma Inc

I agree with you,
Asking you to use a trademarked name appropriately is acceptable.
Asking for a backlink is tacky.

You have a couple of choices. I'd wait the 30 days, and see what their lawyers say. Maybe they'll present a good argument for compliance with their wishes. But at least you'll know of what you are being accused, and what threats they are threatening. Then you have the option to comply, or not.

Make an appointment with a lawyer (not the police!) and ask them about this situation- they will likely put your mind at ease and tell you these people are blowing smoke in exchange for backlinks because some SEO consultant told them to.

10:44 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and do not take this as advice of any kind. In fact, don't read it.

I read recently that you cannot have a copyright on individual words or product names as they are not literary works (?). You can only have a trademark - and as I understand it a trademark is a graphical device not a collection of characters. I would be interested if someone could explain if using the same letters that are within a trademark is infringing a trademark? I understand nothing about the issues involved but am a willing student!

<off topic>

Make an appointment with a lawyer (not the police!) and ask them about this situation

Interesting people here always seem to advise asking a third party with no power or authority to make legally certain decisions about the matter (and whom you have to pay!), rather than the body tasked with enforcing the law :)
</off topic>

11:24 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Interesting people here always seem to advise asking a third party with no power or authority to make legally certain decisions about the matter (and whom you have to pay!), rather than the body tasked with enforcing the law

Which police agency do you suggest?

1:35 am on Oct 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I know several police officers. It is not their business to know the subtleties of copyright, trademarks, patents, etc. They are however very familiar with the intricacies of disarming and cuffing drunken mullets.

Throwing wisdom aside, you could ask a "traffic cop".

not the first time I've been referred to as an "interesting" person :-)

8:43 pm on Oct 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Speak to the police and ask them whether it is illegal.

Is that a joke? And if you see a holdup, do you phone a lawyer?

1:33 am on Oct 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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rather than the body tasked with enforcing the law

Besides, this issue would not be one the police would handle. It would be a suit filed in court. No policemen involved whatsoever.