Businesses which use their own websites to carry on ecommerce need to be aware of the intellectual property rights which can be used to protect the contents and the investment made in their websites. In particular, businesses need to be aware of the intellectual property issues surrounding certain Internet practices, namely linking, framing and the use of metatags.
In general, a business which runs a website will want to encourage browsers to visit its site and will therefore be keen to ensure that there are as many links as possible to its site. However, such businesses will also want to retain a degree of control regarding the access to their site via outside links. In particular, there may be circumstances when the linking site is attempting to capitalise on the possibility that browsers may think the link is part of the linking site. Conversely, businesses will want to control the use of “deep linking” which bypasses the home page of their linked site.
Browsing via search engines is a far more common (and effective) way of browsing than by typing in domain names. So, having the right metatags to attract browsers to your website is vitally important. So it is unsurprising, that the mis-use of trade-marks in metatags to divert hits (and therefore business) away from the trade mark owner is emerging as a fertile ground for legal disputes.