CitizenHawk gets creative with other company’s trademarks.
Just when you thought you’ve seen everything…
CitizenHawk, a company that helps trademark owners protect against typosquatters, has some peculiar keywords in its meta tags, including trademarks of one major competitor.
Yes, you read that right. Here are CitizenHawk.com’s meta keywords on its home page:
cybersquatters, typosquatters, internet traffic, domain squatters, experts in stopping typosquatters, Hijacked, Brand, CPA, IP, fraudulent affiliate, Protect company, brand reputation, misspelled, brandholder, cybersquatting, google, mark monitor, commission junction, typo
So the company that helps others protect their trademarks includes several trademarks in its meta tags, including Google, brand management company Mark Monitor, and Commission Junction (an affiliate network that CitizenHawk is a member of).
Not that it really matters. Google doesn’t consider keyword meta tags in its ranking algorithms (although Yahoo still does). And it’s not like they can actually optimize for the term “Google”.
But still, seems a bit sketchy for a brand protection company that helped FreeCreditReport.com score 1,017 domain names in a single UDRP to cram its meta tags with trademarks.
[Update: CitizenHawk has removed the offending meta tag keywords.]
Crazy, sad and funny all at the same time! Andrew, you have eye’s like a Hawk! 😉
It takes a crook to know a crook right? Why do you think they are so good at their job?
I wonder if Citizencrock.com would be considered a typo?
Old court cases held that trademarks used as keywords could (but not necessarily) infringe the trademark — and, in some cases, did infringe.
But the law’s evolved. Keywords are not used in search algorithms and are invisible to consumers. Moreover, the law no longer presumes a trademark owner is harmed by an infringement — the owner must now prove it.
As a result, it would be very difficult nowadays to convince a court by a preponderance of the evidence that consumers are likely to be confused due to the use of a trademark as a keyword. In short, don’t assume such use is unlawful.
Andrew Allemann says
Dan – I’m not assuming it’s unlawful. Perhaps unethical, and certainly ironic given the nature of CitizenHawk’s business.
Agreed with Andrew, I don’t care about the legality of it, it’s just plain irresponsible. Nobody likes a hypocrite. Don’t think they’ll ever be able to add to their business model now going after people that buy tm adwords to advertise their competing product. It’s similar enough to what they are doing with their met tags.
That was funny! People in the SEO business use shady techniques to advance their clients; CitizenHawk may be unaware of that . . .
Chip Meade says
I believe they also are granted the right to make money off those same typosquatted names they win for their clients for a period of time after they are transfered. Talk about hypocritical. Slimy is more like it. Kind of like paying the mob protection money.
I certainly agree that actions can be unethical and yet still lawful. But that distinction arises most often when thinking through one’s personal conduct — not when thinking about how keep a business competitive.
Should businesses always act ethically? Yes, but according to its ethics (and best interest), not the ethics of those sitting on the sidelines. I’m not carrying any water for CitizenHawk (and agree that its use of others’ trademarks as keywords is a public relations blunder), but I for one won’t impose on them my ethics. The marketplace will extract whatever toll must be paid.