*New BGH meta tag decision “Partnerprogramm”

Screen shot 2009-11-02 at 11.20.33I’ve just discovered on  IPKat blog a new decision by the  BGH [BGH, Urteil vom 07.10.2009 – Az. I ZR 109/06] on the topic of meta tagging or other SEO methods and the liability of advertiser. This is thus NOT and keyword advertising case.

In the Partnerprogramm case the TM (“ROSE”) of a claimant (www.roseversand.de) was found to be used by an web-advertising company 0049-net GmbH which got hired by the defendant (www.raddiscount.de) , a  competitor of Rose, to promote the defendants website.  The core problem of the case does not lie in the trademark use issue but on the liability of the defendant for the trade mark infringement by the advertising website. The courts have had no troubles to find an infringement as the TM of the claimant got used in the search results of the advertising company which then directed possible customers to the website of the defendant and thus the courts for an confusion of origin.

The BGH states that:

1. Wird ein als Suchwort verwendetes – geschütztes – Zeichen dazu verwendet, das Ergebnis des Auswahlverfahrens in der Trefferliste einer Internetsuchmaschine zu beeinflussen und den Nutzer auf diese Weise zu einer Internetseite des Verwenders zu führen, liegt eine markenmäßige Benutzung vor. (vgl. BGH, Urteil vom 18.05.2006 – Az. I ZR 183/03, MIR 2006, Dok. 196 – Impuls; BGH, Urteil vom 08.02.2007 – Az. I ZR 77/04, MIR 2007, Dok. 287 – AIDOL; BGH, Urteil vom 22.01.2009 – Az. I ZR 30/07, MIR 2009, Dok. 063 – Beta Layout; BGH, Beschluss vom 22.01.2009 – Az. I ZR 125/07, MIR 2009, Dok. 050 – Bananabay).

[translation by Austrotrabant] If a protected sign [trade mark] ]is used as search term [keyword] to influence the decision-process [?ranking procedure?] on the search result page of a internet search engines and thus guides the user to the website of the person using the advertising service [advertiser], this constitutes trademark use.

I am of the opinion that the IPKat blog somehow got this decision wrong when they  labelled it as “Liability for AdWords” but I agree with Uli Hildebrandt when he states that:

The BGH clarifies an issue concerning liability for links. A company that pays commission to another company which has a link to the first company’s offers and infringes a trade mark with this concrete link is itself liable for the link.

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