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Treading carefully with others' trademarks


Alysson H. Oikawa

There are very few clear lines surrounding the use of another’s trademark in online keyword advertising. But in Brazil, companies have definite routes for addressing potential infringement. Alysson Oikawa explains.

For many years intellectual property experts have been paying close attention to dishonest practices perpetrated through Internet search engines such as Google, Yahoo! or Bing. Notable cases have been debated since the 1990s, when the first decisions about the misuse of meta tags were pronounced by superior courts of different jurisdictions.

Meta tags are elements inserted in HTML code that are not visible to regular users but may be used as parameters on Internet searches. Some companies embedded competitors’ trademarks in meta tags in order to divert consumers using web search engines.

The search engines realised those setbacks and by the early 2000s very few of them still supported meta tags. Instead, theydeveloped algorithms that disregard meta tags when determining search rankings. The decline of meta tags coincided with the consolidation of keyword advertising as a way to achieve better placement on search rankings.

keyword advertising, brazil, google, yahoo,


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