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Can someone use another company's name to draw traffic?


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12 replies to this topic

#1 rexolio

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 04:45 PM

There's a company that I'm possibly going to work for with that has a very specific name in a niche vertical. I was doing some basic research on them - specifically "reviews", and found several results (all in the top 10) that were from this one guy. Most of the results are YouTube / video results. Some of the titles are "COMPANY NAME reviews - click here". So, I clicked! The opening of the video says "COMPANY NAME Review", then the video starts. The guys doesn't say one word about the company. Instead, he gives a testimony and then pushes people to his own website. The website link (in the YouTube description) has a querystring that includes the COMPANY NAME (I'm assuming to make the user think they'll get the info they thought there were going to get). When you go to the site, the header tag includes the company's name (if you remove the querystring, the page is the same but without the company name). The page is basically just a squeeze page / sales page which includes another video of the guy trying to sell you his "get rich quick" system.

Can he do this? Legally?

He doesn't include the company's ".com" in anything. And he doesn't include the space in the company's name. So let's say we were talking about Host Gator (hostgator.com) - which we're not. But if you searched for "hostgator.com reviews", he uses "HostGator" in all of his title tags and in the querystring to his website.

It's obvious what he's doing. And I'm sure he's doing the same with some of the company's competitors. What I'm wondering is - can he? Can we stop him? His stupid videos are pushing down actual, useful info on the company further on the the serps.

#2 chrishirst

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 07:56 AM

It's not "illegal" because he is not claiming to be the company in question.

#3 Jill

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 11:03 AM

You might try reporting them to google. They wouldn't like to be showing irrelevant results to their users.

#4 Mikl

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 12:46 PM

In theory, the site's search engine ranking should wither away. The site is clearly being deceptive, and it's therefore in Google's interest not to rank them highly. Their algorithms should deal with this sort of thing.

In practice, you might need to give them a nudge. I'd suggest using the "Give us feedback" link (at the bottom of a page of search results for a relevant keyword), and then choose either "I had a bad experience with a website I found on Google." or "Google's search results weren't helpful."

As for legality, I agree with Chris. They are not infringing copyright; they are not passing themselves off as the company in question. You didn't mention in which jurisdiction they are based, but I doubt if it would actually be illegal, wherever they are.

#5 Jill

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 01:04 PM

QUOTE
In practice, you might need to give them a nudge. I'd suggest using the "Give us feedback" link (at the bottom of a page of search results for a relevant keyword), and then choose either "I had a bad experience with a website I found on Google." or "Google's search results weren't helpful."


For the record, I've tried doing that in the past for bad stuff and nothing has ever happened.

You may have more luck reporting something while logged into your GWMT account.

#6 rexolio

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 10:33 AM

Thanks, guys... good to know. I appreciate the feedback - its definitely deceptive and therefore irrelevant because he doesn't actually review or mention the company. It's obvious what he's doing. I'll try reporting it and see what happens. Thanks again!

#7 Michael Martinez

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 01:54 PM

Actually, it sounds like a misuse of trademark since the guy is using "COMPANY NAME reviews" to promote unrelated content. That *IS* illegal and is also a violation of YouTube's terms of service.

Enforcement is up to the trademark owner, however.

#8 chrishirst

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 04:29 PM

Using another company's trademarked name in comparative advertising is NOT illegal. Nobody is going to arrested for it. If it were the entire marketing teams for Smith Kline Beecham and Pepsico would be all languishing in jail now. Along with EVERY mobile (cell) phone companies Of course if the comparison is derogatory of defamatory the trademark owner may bring a case against the advertiser.

Using anothers registered trademark on goods for sale (Passing off) is illegal as is purporting to represent another company.

#9 chrishirst

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 04:34 PM

From WIPO, The World Itellectual Property Organisation.

http://www.wipo.int/...sing.htm#advert
http://www.wipo.int/...tising.htm#comp

#10 rexolio

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 04:38 PM

Perhaps I shouldn't say ILLEGAL, Chris. Didn't mean to stir your pot. BUT, you shouldn't be saying you're doing a review of a company when there is NO review whatsoever nor any mention and all you're doing is using that companies name to get a click. That's just wrong from a Search Engine standpoint because it's irrelevant to users searching for information on that name. At least say "Company Name? Try Us Instead".

I've gotten the info I need. Thanks.

#11 Michael Martinez

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 08:20 PM

I don't see where the original post said anything about comparative advertising. What is being described is completely parasitical and is technically illegal -- but you don't normally see people go to jail for breaking these kinds of laws. You have to demonstrated an orchestrated pattern to allege criminal abuse that requires arrest (such as manufacturing thousands of pairs of jeans and putting a well-known jean manufacturer's label on them).

I agree that comparative advertising is not illegal. Unauthorized use of a trademark, however, is.


#12 rexolio

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 08:29 PM

Thanks, guys. I agree with all of that. I'm sure the guy isn't getting too much traffic from it, but he's clearly aware of what he's doing and it is parasitical and unethical. If you say you're reviewing someone, review them. Otherwise, write good content and get traffic on your own merits. I've reported it... not much else that can be done except to continue to manage the company's brand carefully and strategically.

Gracias!

#13 brianman

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 08:56 PM

Ugh, people try all kind of things. I like Jill's advice of reporting them to Google. But, essentially, these people are ruining our search experience. I recently saw someone who was claiming to "give away" a squeeze page template. When I clicked on his link and gave him my "spam email" account, he sent me to a page with a video on how I could make millions. These guys must be making money to keep doing this kind of thing.




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