Utah Bans Trademark Keyword Ads
This seems unusually burdensome for search engines, and impractical in general.
The US state of Utah has outlawed the use of other people's trade marks to generate business through search engines. The plan has been called unconstitutional and impractical.
In creating a new kind of electronic trade mark with specific online protections, the state hopes to clamp down on one company buying the right to display search engine adverts when a person searches for a rival's products.
Court cases across the US have largely backed the right of companies to purchase an association with a search for a rival's products, though one state ruled that that term must not appear within the actual advert.
Google and Yahoo! operate the most popular search advertising programmes which display adverts related to the term typed into the search engine itself. The ads are displayed separately to the actual search results, which are unaffected by any company's purchase of advertising space.
Under the Trademark Protection Act, trade mark owners can apply for additional protection in Utah which will mean that their marks cannot be used as a trigger by rivals. "This bill establishes a new type of mark, called an electronic registration mark, that may not be used to trigger advertising for a competitor and creates a database for use in administering marks," says the Act.
The law "prohibits the use of a registered electronic registration mark to trigger advertising for a business, goods, or services of the same class as those represented by the electronic registration mark," according to the Act.
Both the advertiser and the seller of the advert can be liable under the law.