The Use of Disclaimers in the Context of Trademark Infringement Online!

The value of trademarks and trademark portfolios is in the ability to develop an online brand, increase your SEO ranking, and developing a good key word optimization site that allows you to acquire more online visitors than your competitors.  This is not the easiest thing to do, in light of, how often Google changes the webmaster policies or rules.  Moreover, the nature of organic search results is such that it does not stay constant, but is fluid–these organic searches that are performed by consumers are not going to be the same each month, quarter or year.  

In addition, the use of disclaimers for trademark infringement you must be careful to ensure that your competitor is not able to diminish the effectiveness of the disclaimer by placing it in less visible area of the website.  If you are not careful the fees and expenses incurred or spent on a preliminary injunction will be wasted.  It is difficult to judge the effectiveness of a disclaimer, but the more prominent the disclaimer and the less likely it will be easily avoided by a consumer by clicking through a link or special portal the better off you will be as an online business operator.  

If you take the time to develop a content rich website and develop a good SEO optimization strategy, then you want to ensure that it is adequately protected.   More importantly, if you expend the funds in acquiring a disclaimer to remedy consumer confusion, then you must make sure that at least the following is done:  

1) the disclaimer is prominent in relation to the remaining content on the website;

2) the disclaimer is bolded, italicized, font and color are actually large and vibrant enough to ensure that it is easy for a consumer to find; 

3) moreover, the disclaimer must be from a click through portal that requires the consumer to acknowledge that each has read and viewed the disclaimer; 

4) also, the disclaimer must be such that it is only, avoidable after the issue of initial interest confusion has be resolved; and

5) the disclaimer is not subject to alteration or modification by online search robots. 

This is a common concern in most trademark infringement matters or opinions in recent cases.  Often times, lawyers do their clients a disservice by winning the preliminary judgment hearing and failing to take the time to craft an appropriate disclaimer or include the appropriate language in the Judge’s Order.  See the following:  International Kennel Club, Inc. v. Mighty Star, Inc and Std. Process, Inc. v. Banks, 554 F. Supp Std. Process, Inc. v. Banks

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