Law Firm sues over competitor ranking via SEO for trademark!

Posted by on May 30, 2012 in SEO | 2 Comments

A very interesting case has hit the courts in Australia over a competitor outranking another competitor for a trademark term in the law firm space, the full article can be read here: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/dunstan-playford-a-lawyer-with-many-aliases-but-fewer-clicks-after-court-clash-20120529-1zgml.html

The case runs as follows:

The lawyer in question runs an affiliate website which acts as a referral base for other law firms, so people who are looking for a lawyer they use this website as a referral base, this on itself is an interesting areas because I have worked in the law area in Australia in the past and I know their is many restrictions to what you can and can not do, The Law Society has also commented on the article above.

The lawyer in the case owned the domain: gotocourt.com.au

A competitor purchased a domain name: gotocourtlawyers.com.au

This competitor then out ranked the original site for many keywords in the SEO space, a primary keyword was “go to court lawyers” which out ranked the main website.

The original site has a trademark for the term “Go To Court” so they have placed an injunction on the original website to remove it from the serps for SEO as the new website has infact out ranked them see image below from SMH:

This is an interesting case because it will have ramifications on affiliates in the SEO space, as many affiliates who cannot target brand terms in the PPC space for years have been targeting the SEO space as it is free game.

It seems the owner of the domain gotocourt.com.au has now taken the domain gotocourtlawyers.com.au and is using a 301 redirect.

2 Comments

  1. Paul Gailey
    May 30, 2012

    mate, this is a fascinating one :) I noticed that the plaintiff site does not declare trademark on their website (very weird) and unfortunately due to the out of date cache of the redirect the defendants website is unavailable to inspect. The cache SERP of https://www.google.com/search?pws=0&q=gotocourtlawyers.com.au does not show however the trademark term used in the home page title. It could boil down to lawyers to determine loss of income due to evidence of consumer confusion over choice of the two. It’s a weird one because GTC uses the term only in the display of the domain and not as such within the design of the logo so it’s a weak trademark application in any case. The defendants case may rest on the defense of the alleged repurposed content used on the site. I work in vertical with a generic brand trademarked name and it’s a real thorn dealing with similar issues sometimes the arguments spin on the finest of pin heads!

    Reply
  2. Andrew
    June 14, 2012

    dame, I can’t buy http://www.googleadwordsqualified.com.au ?

    Reply

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