Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
The Internet

"Pez" Forbidden in Meta Tags 178

Ex Machina writes "According to the legal jargon on Pez.com: "You may not embed Metatags (hidden text used by web search engines to find websites) into your website using any of the registered or unregistered trademarks of Pez Candy, Inc. or its affiliates, in particular the PEZ® mark. Any such use of Metatags will be considered trademark infringement and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. " Is there a precident for this case? I do believe this would fall under fair use--- for example, product reviews could be blocked if this was legitimized by a court. I fear lawyers. "
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

"Pez" Forbidden in Meta Tags

Comments Filter:
  • Ah, Slashdot -- the home of "legal advice by wishful thinking."

    >First of all, WTF is an "unregistered
    >trademark?". How can you know if you're
    >violating an unregistered trademark or not?
    >Maybe someone could clear up what they mean
    >by this - but it sounds like nonsense.

    Of course its not nonsense. A trademark is a name or symbol that, through usage and/or tradition, has become associated with or symbolic of a company or a product. Whether or not a trademark is registered has nothing to do with whether or not it is symbolic of a company. For example, in the US, if I say the words "Pink Panther" and "Fiberglass," most people will think -- without pause -- "Owens-Corning". What makes the trademark is that association in the mind of the consumer. The registration is just some red tape that affects what remedies you can or can not sue for.

    And as for the originator of the thread, who asked if this wasn't protected by "fair use" -- my god, man, if I asked a question like "Hey, can't I distribute my specially modified Emacs as binary-only because it's protected by the BSD license?" you would jump all over me for being ignorant, stupid, and making statements about things I didn't bother to research. Fair Use is a limited exception (actually, an affirmative defense) to (American) Copyright law. There is no fair use defense to trademark law. Nor should there be.

    The key question in trademark law is "Does the use of the trademark cause confusion in the consumer?" If the answer is yes, I've infringed. If it is no, I haven't. For example: "Coke is it!" is a trademark of the Coca-cola company. If in a skit in a movie about cocaine abusers, I snort a HUGE line of cocaine, look into the camera, grinning madly, saying "COKE IS IT!" that is probably not an infringement because no one is confused or thinks Coca-Cola (inc) produced the cocaine. On the other hand, if I am a small soda producer, and I put "Coke is it!" on the cans of my orange-flavored soda, a reasonable consumer might think that perhaps Coke produced the soda. That would be trademark infringement (actually, in my first example I might be liable for trademark dilution but that's another issue entirely.)

    Pez's point of view is obviously that if someone types "Pez" into a search engine and they get back a bunch of links, a reasonable person might think that the returned sites might be somehow affiliated with Pez. Perhaps they're wrong, but I don't think its unreasonable of them to make the argument.

  • A few years back an anti-smoking organization had a campaign in the Stockholm underground (and maybe elsewhere) where they put the familiar "Welcome to Marlboro Country" line over a picture of a graveyard. That was perfectly legal since they were not trying to sell cigarettes (or clothes). The big bad tobacco company however changed advertisement bureau after that. How's that for lack of humour?

    Furthermore, a trademark is only protected in the domain where it is active. You could probably sell candy named "Marlboro" (or cigarettes called "Pez") without worry.
  • You do seem to have an odd perception of what constitutes legal advice. If you read my post again, this time making some at least vague effort at understanding, you'll see that it constituted a question "what is an unregistered trademark?" and a suggestion for how trademark law *should* work.


    Where's the advice?

  • Has anyone located an email address for these fools so that we in the community at large can educate them? Perhaps they are not malicious, and are rather just clueless as to how the web works.
  • Ed,
    It doesn't have to be enforceable. If you have a webpage on one of the free webservers such as Xoom or Geocities, the lawyers will simply contact the service provider and state their policy. The service provider will then delete your site without contacting the you.

    Of course, this isn't a problem if you are using your own server or your ISP is kind enough to contact you first.

    cheers
    sand
    --
    "What would you do with a brain if you had one?" Dorothy, Wizard of Oz
    --
  • Do you mind my asking why they were pestering you? Trademark infringement?
  • A friend of mine who runs SearchEngineWatch [searchenginewatch.com] has been very interested in the meta tag lawsuits and has actually been an expert witness for Terri Welles in Playboy's meta tag lawsuit against her.

    He has a very interesting page listing Meta Tag Lawsuits [searchenginewatch.com] which summarizes some of the recent cases, whether they have been settled, and the importance of the settlement.

    My understanding is that the courts have ruled that you cannot use trademarked meta tags if you are attempting to deceptive with them (see Oppedahl & Larson v. Advanced Concepts [patents.com]) or attempting to "hijack" another web page. But if you have a legitimate reason to be using a trademark term to properly catalog your site then its use would be legitimate.

    I don't think the courts have made a definitive ruling on the legitimate use of trademarked terms in meta tags yet. But that might happen in the Terri Welles countersuit [terriwelles.com]. And she did win her original case [cnet.com] allowing her to use trademarked terms on her site. And Playboy was denied an appeal.

    I'd say Pez fan sites have a legitimate reason to use the term in meta tags based on the Playboy vs. Terri Wells case. But the sad thing here is that PezCandy has a right to sue and small players without the resources to fight back will simply back down.

    Hopefully we'll get a definitive ruling on this soon from somebody who can afford to fight back.

    Joachim

  • The following are cross-posted from Cyberia-L. My apologies for cross-posting, but I thought Shashdot might appreciate these comments, too . . . (1)________________________ If Pez even thinks about going after you (or sends a cease-and-desist letter), please do give me a call. This is one I'll enjoy. Eric (2)___________________ Martin Simon mentioned the "Bally" case: The Bally citation is certainly helpful. But why deal execusively with the easy cases (critical websites, general "candy" subject meta-sites, official PEZ licensees, or even poetry about PEZ)? What PEZ knows and is trying to cash in on is that a secondary market has developed for classic PEZ dispensers. Not that PEZ hasn't tried to foster and encourage the self-same secondary market. Not that they haven't profited from increased consumer-market sales becuase this secondary market exists. Nevertheless, someone in their legal department must have stumbled upon the bright idea "hey, why don't we try to charge a trademark license fee every time someone tries to auction one of those darn things on Ebay." The idea is simply obscene. Imagine if people had to pay a trademark license fee every time someone posted a classified advertisment in the newspaper offering a used Ford or Honda for sale. Even if you advertise the car is in "mint" condition and still has the dealer sticker in the window (and even if you publish a photograph of the car along with the ad), the secondary market transaction is hardly a trademark infringement. Of course PEZ may still have legitimate trademark (or trade dress) rights in cases such as the mass sale of counterfeit PEZ dispensers. I remember Wizards of the Coast had a problem with something similar a few years back concerning their game "Magic -- the Gathering." But ordinary secondary-market transactions involving PEZ dispensers (even if they command OBSCENELY high prices) simply should not be the subject of trademark enforcement. Just another example of how some trademark interests have gone completely overboard with litigation and the threat of litigation. Regards, Eric > -----Original Message----- > From: Law & Policy of Computer Communications > [mailto:CYBERIA-L@LISTSERV.AOL.COM]On Behalf Of Martin Samson > Sent: Thursday, October 07, 1999 2:05 PM > To: CYBERIA-L@LISTSERV.AOL.COM > Subject: Re: "Pez" Forbidden in Meta Tags > > > In Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp. v. Andrew S. Faber, 29 F.Supp.2d 1161 > (C.D. CA. Nov. 23, 1998), the court held that the creator of a > non-commercial "consumer complaint" site could use the Bally trademark in > the meta tags of his website to attract users. Said the court: > > The average internet user may want to receive all the information > available > on Bally. The user may want to access the official Internet site > to see how > Bally sells itself. Likewise, the user may also be apprised of > the opinions > of others about Bally. This individual will be unable to locate sites > containing outside commentary unless those sites include Bally's marks in > the machine readable code. The machine readable code is the > hidden part of > the Internet upon which search engines rely to find sites that contain > content which the individual user wishes to locate. The basic > mechanics is > that the web page designer places certain keywords in an > unreadable portion > of the web page that tells the search engines what is on a particular page > upon which search engines rely. Prohibiting Faber from using Bally's name > in the machine readable code would effectively isolate him from > all but the > most savvy of Internet users.
  • I just added meta tags to my new experimental site.

    try insert your favorite trademarked term here.really.fuckingsucks.net.

    eg:

    this.really.fuckingsucks.net [fuckingsucks.net] and pez.really.fuckingsucks.net [fuckingsucks.net]

    Note that it is all dynamic content... no trademarked terms actually exist on this site.

  • IANAL, but I did get a degree in broadcast communications. Which included lengthy converage of communciations law. If I'm not mistaken, the media (i.e. news, magazones, legitimate news sources) cannot be burdened with trademark or copyright infringement if used in a verifiable news story, article or event.

    I can write a magazone article about PEZ and slam them for something, use thier name and trademarks, as long as I do not say anything that is not factual or without grounds. So, if CNN.com does a story on PEZ, then they should be able to use the name, meta-tags, etc. without fear of being sued for it. Even though they indirectly profit from the PEZ name if a lot of people are interested in PEZ and go visit the site and CNN.com earns a bunch of money from click throughs.

    Now, if the PHEZ Candy Co. decides to use the PEZ name to get users to thier website to buy similar PEZ style, PHEZ candy dispensers, then there is a problem and PHEZ can be found guilty of infringement, because they are luring buyers.

    I highly doubt that it's in the best interest of the PEZ Co. to go after every PEZ fan site on the internet. They are going to worry about anyone stealing from them, or giving them a bad name. Wrong or right, they might go after a site that sells the dispensers and isn't authorized to do so, like a collector.

    my $0.02,

    colin stefani
  • Actually, the US has no official language. So pez (the Spanish word) could be considered a common word in America as well.

    Just something to think about.
  • This post is from Italy, where lawsuits last longer than lives.
    We have a very reform-willing government and a very info-ignorant burocracy.
    (We actually have a law that defines a valid, legally-equivalent [possibly even more valued] electronic signing mechanism. And its 2 years already; obviously law is written but very little has happened)
    So copyright lawsuits on digital media can really be a NIGHTMARE here.

    That said.

    This situation has already happened us twice. Last december and last may.

    Assibit [assibit.it] (italian only) is an insurance broker and an Internet company.

    One would imagine insurance companies actually would want to be on our site. Usually our intent is to sell THEIR product after all. So we setup pages on car insurance willing to get relations with various direct marketing and phone-maketing oriented companies.

    We obviously had metatags on the subject including most companies names.

    Not only we got request to cancel this stuff but in one case reaction was actually VERY aggressive.
    We haven't managed to get relations with these 2 companies. (but we have with many others)
    In our perspective this ends up in a loss of opportunity for them.
    But this is not how they percieve it. Management (and I think this behaviour occurs more or less in any trading sector) thinks they are actually defending their trademark. They do this on the (IMHO wrong) idea that, on the web, intermediaries are a useless cost. (from reselling to search engines we all are intermediaries some way... )

    This ends up in weird behaviour like having only one site on the web with your trademark.
    They think they will get more hits from search engines like this. Which is true for people searching for their trademark, but not for people searching form their products...
    Evidence comes from the fact that we haven't lost a single user from removing the companies names, its just them loosing visibility on searches.
    In the one aggressive case, they were accusing us for being ahead of them in a couple of queries on altavista (besides they were spamming the engine), as if they owned some right on the position ...
    Time will mend this, and some bad experiences will help ....

    What we actually did was drop the whole thing, if they WANTED to lose the customers we could bring them, there was no point in actually reviewing their service at all.

    BTW. Has anyone ever got REALLY in a lawsuit on this? pointers?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    While the law is pretty much still up in the air on this type of thing, I know of at least one relevant case which would suggest that Pez couldn't possibly win a lawsuit over this.

    http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-328661.html [cnet.com]

    This article describes the case of Terri Welles and Playboy Enterprises, in which Playboy sued and lost.

  • Sorry, I must have mis read this from that page

    For example: You may NOT use the PEZ® mark (or any other registered trademark belonging to Pez Candy, Inc. or its affiliates) on your website or your business in any way, shape or form.

    Silly me, I thought that the "in any way, shape or form." meant exactly that. I guess I was wrong.

    Sarcasm is a wonderful thing, no?

  • Well they can say it on a web site. But ofcourse they can't force you to take something down without going to court. And then they have to convice a Judge (and maybe a jury) why you should. So if you have "Free Pez" in the meta tags and a lot of Smut then you are in hot water. On the other hand if you have a bunch of pictures of old PEZ dispensers you are probably ok.
  • Aren't we violating the stupid page by putting "PEZ®" everywhere on slashdot, as well?
    Jolly hope so. Kick ass. :)

  • Hormel -did- get pissed off a year or two ago, but it was far too late for them to be able to enforce anything. Maybe if they'd done something 10-15 years ago ... still probably wouldn't have mattered. It's like asking someone for a Kleenex. Or having a Xerox machine in the office. It just doesn't follow anymore that those actual brands are involved.

    I can't imagine any colloquial uses for PEZ, but maybe that's the point - their lawyers may be trying to prevent PEZ from ending up like SPAM.
  • I think the copyrights laws have gone crazy. At first it was supposed to protect the names of legitimate business to prevent any competitor to abuse customers by using the same names. It was a protection against unlawful business tactics.

    Now it is just a way for monopolies to control whatever is said about them. Write "XXX Corp is crap", and you can get sued because you wrote "XXX Corp" without their consent. This has nothing to do with unlawful business anymore, it is just the megacorpo taking away free speech, to make more money.
  • In a way, yes. I had put up a protest site about the botched RHAT IPO affair, which featured a parody of their logo. At least that's what I supposed what it was all about. But, it could also have been copyright infringment due to the numerous scanned faxes. Or maybe, they weren't thrilled with my version of the story. Who knows? As the IP block was quite successful they didn't really get around to send a cease and desist order, and so I don't know what exactly they would have objected to.
  • by vr ( 9777 )
    Yes; could be blocked.

    If it only concerns meta-tags, just drop them if you want to review a new Pez-dispenser.

  • Even if you are a competitor, in US trademark law, comparative advertising is fair use. Otherwise, Intel would be suing Apple right now. Hell, Intel would be suing every chip maker that has published benchmarks. If you made a page on your candy site publishing the results of a market survery of "which candy people like better, PEZ(tm) or FOO(tm)," and put pez in your META tags, it's most certainly legal. Especially since it's more than possible someone is actively looking for a PEZ(tm) vs. FOO(tm) market survey.

    I know in some countries comparative advertising is actually illegal. Maybe it is in the UK, I don't know. In the US it's pretty common. I suppose if the makers of FOO(tm) were a german company (i think germany is one country where it is illegal, but I could be wrong), I suppose PEZ could sue them IN GERMANY.

  • by iXus ( 21877 ) on Thursday October 07, 1999 @12:28AM (#1632019)
    Only if you are a competitor selling candy and you are trying to get more visitors to your site by using the Pez trademark, then a court can stop you from doing this.

    Things like product reviews are no trademark infringements and therefore allowed, regardless of what they say in their legal blurb.
  • If this is legitimized, imagine what is next, could they then turn around and say that slashdot violated their copyright by using their name on the main page?

    This just seems to violate free speech totally, I guess we'd better rush out and put similar clauses into everything we own too huh?

    This just proves that there are more lawsuits than legitimate cases.

  • I know a guy who uses the handle Pez D. Spencer -- is he going to have to change his email now? What a frickin' joke. These people must be working with whoever at Unisys decided to sue everyone over the *.gif's...








  • Then it isn't trademark infringement. If my (fictional) mate Peter, who goes by the nickname of "Pez", uses it, then there's nothing they can do, as he isn't using it to trade.
  • http://www.iffmfish.com/ cgi-bin/WebObjects/iffm/BuyFish.wo [iffmfish.com]

    There's at least one, but not pez in the metatag.
    --
  • I suppose next Intel will prevent us from using the letter "I" in any searchable post in a website (it really is trademarked!).

    Oops! I just did it. I did it again. I did it again....
  • How'd you do that?

    ''


    ah, lt and gt tags?
  • Is there some joke I don't know about? Is PEZ some crazy geek icon like Spam? Who the hell embedded "PEZ" in their code?

    Now...I think the idea behind this legal threat is good because every porn site on the planet is putting legitamate words in their tags so searching on the name of any famous female yeilds a ton of porn links.

    Maybe there is a huge market for underground PEZ porn and this how they are trying to stop it?

    - JoeShmoe

    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
  • And perhaps if we want to criticize our respective governments we should use thinly veiled allegory and not the real names of officials or actions. In the US, Norway, and anywhere that there is true political freedom, such a suggestion would be justly ridiculed. In places which have less political freedom, the suggestion might allow brave and valiant protest that would otherwise be silenced.

    Clearly we can remove the Meta tags. We can also use allegory to express our political views. One does what one must to continue to exist within the rules of a society. My question is how a society goes from complete repression to a more open one. I think the answer is that individuals push the envelope of acceptablity more and more until the natural right of being able to speak ones mind is liberated.

    So if we accept a small restriction on our collective freedom of speech, we will continue to live and exist as a society, but I believe everyone will suffer from the decrease in freedom and push at the boundaries until those restrictions are relaxed. We will continue to fight restrictions on expression until we get to a balance of our rights to speech against other's rights of property, information, and freedom from confusion. (And then we'll fight some more)

    --
  • I never expected to see PEZ on Slashdot. This is so cool. I have to admit, I'm one of those crazy PEZheads. I have a PEZ site, I have "PEZ" in my meta tags, I have PEZ-related images all over my site, and I have yet to be contacted officially by PEZ Candy Inc for anything (but I wouldn't doubt that it could happen). PEZheads all over the 'net waited literally months and months for the official pez.com site to go online; and it finally gets here, and lo and behold the "PEZ cop" is greeting us with a note about copyrights. We were all disappointed. You would not believe the number of PEZheads online, many of us with nice sites dedicated to PEZ [pezlist.com]. We spread the hobby of collecting, we give them free publicity (conventions, news articles, etc), we are basically adverising and promoting PEZ for free, and the internet is our main medium. The note on the site wasn't what we expected [pezians.com], but it no longer seems like a big deal. Pez.com went up almost a year ago, and the note really hasn't changed anything. No one's really upset anymore. AFAIK, no site has been "prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law" for using the word PEZ.. I assumed the copyright notice was just the advice of paranoid lawyers for a company that was new to the net... the thing that worries me is that the note hasn't been changed since the site opened. I wonder if they're serious?

    p9k. the guy with almost 300 PEZ dispensers in his room
  • I am not a lawyer nor am I american (which probably disqualifies me from commenting, but I'll do so anyways)......but CAN this really be done?

    I am thinking like this. If I say to a friend: "Boy, I really like those new PEZ-candy" - then it's okay. If, however I write the same sentence on my WWW-page, then it's copyright violation?

    If it's in metatags or not, it seems to me that PEZ doesn't want to have their name mentioned anywhere on the web. Quote from their legal stuff:

    You may NOT use the PEZ® mark (or any other registered trademark belonging to Pez Candy, Inc. or its affiliates) on your website

    According to this, how many lawsuits are /. going to recieve from bringing just this comment :)

  • I have no idea how you could legally enforce it (I don't think you can to be honest) but I understand the original post. What he is saying (quite rightly) is that a lot or porn sites (and I have nothing against porn!!) use padded meta tags, invisible text, even dummy dns entries to get extra hits. Go to somewhere like excite which uses a spider, search for, say, "Demi Moore". Now maybe what I wanted was a bio, a list of films, maybe a fan club. What I actually get is thousands upon thousands of "sites" called "DemiNekkidPics.com", "DemiMooreMpegs.com" etc etc which just point to redirectors which then take you to a site with nothing to do with Demi. Just porn. Now I'm not criticising the porn itself, just that if you are trying to get "legitimate" (I guess that means non-porn) info, searching is virtually impossible - too much garbage to wade through.
  • by sparks ( 7204 ) <acrawford@laetabili s . com> on Thursday October 07, 1999 @02:25AM (#1632033) Homepage
    This is all about the clash between two views of the Internet.


    When someone types "pez" into a search engine, what is it they are looking for?

    • The official "Pez" site, and none other.
    • Those sites which contain lots of information about Pez, which will probably include the official one.

    The answer is, clearly I hope, the second. The problem is that corporates don't see the world this way. The thought that people might search for their name, but go to their multi-million dollar, often content-void site but instead go to the place where the information they actually want may be found, leaves them dizzy.


    Meta-tags are a mechanism which allows the author of a page to specify some keywords which describe the content. It works reasonably well. It is not intended, and does not function as a mechanism for identifying the official site relating to a trademark.


    As a non-lawyer, and in an utterly non-advice-giving manner, I'd suggest that attempting to use trademark law to prevent other people saying "my site talks about Pez too!" is probably asking the courts to go too far. But then I'd have said suing mcdonalds when you spill coffee on yourself was unlikely to succeed either.


    If the law sides with the corporates on this, then it can only be because they don't understand what search engines are for (You want information, not marketing). And they will have made the wrong decision.


    It can be very hard to respect the law sometimes, so I've given up on doing so for the time being...

  • From http://www.pez.com/HTML/Pezinfo.html [pez.com]:
    We hope that you enjoy our site and find it informative and resourceful. We also invite you to visit the many other PEZ related web sites created by some very talented and dedicated PEZ collectors.
    So, they obviously like the PEZ fan homepages, but I'm really not sure how to make a PEZ fan homepage (yuck, people really have weird hobbies) without using the trademarks. Maybe someone can clear this up?!
  • But of course. The problem is, they're not limiting the prohibition to PEZ as associated with candy. They don't want us using 'PEZ' in -any- connotation. The legal page says specifically:

    You may not embed Metatags (hidden text used by web search engines to find websites) into your website using any of the registered or unregistered trademarks of Pez Candy, Inc. or its affiliates, in particular the PEZ® mark.

    That last bit means 'PEZ' just by itself.

    I think that their lawyers latched onto a trendy concept (let's ban metatags!), and didn't do any research whatsoever...

  • U.S. law allows for "fair use", meaning that practically any word or phrase can be used within certain contexts. This prevents the hobbling of free speech.

    Playboy has had less luck in their case against ex-playmate Terri Welles. [cnet.com] The C|Net article states "[T]he judge found in favor of Welles, stating she is entitled to 'fair use' of the trademarks, and that her site was not 'diluting' Playboy's trademarks."

    To show the patent (ack!) absurdity of Pez's position, look at this example.

    You've written an online history of candy companies, including several mentions of Pez. You add the word Pez to your metatags. This is clearly fair use as you are not attempting to deceive people by implying that you represent the Pez company.

    Think about it. Metatags are nothing new. They are nothing more than the internet equivalent of a book's index.
  • It is interesting to note that the guy who created e-bay got the idea for the company while trying to sell/trade pez dispensers. If Pez were the schmucks they are way back, there might have never been an e-bay. Taste the bitter candy of censorship as our freedoms are dispensed with.
  • The law in this area is complex and rather unsettled at the moment, though we are seeing more and more decisions on point every month.

    You infringe a trademark when you use a mark in commerce in a manner that would create a likelihood of confusion or a likelihood of deception as to source, origin, affiliation, etc. These are all essential elements. However, the ownership of a trademark is not the same as ownership of a word: the word, generally speaking, remains available for denominative use. (That is, I can still be a playboy if my wife will let me, but I cannot sell Playboy-brand services that would give rise to a likelihood of confusion)

    Confusing things further is that use of a competitor's trademark in a truthful and non-misleading comparative ad is (in the US, not everywhere) a blessed activity, protected by trademark policy as well as the first amendment. By its nature, such an ad does not create confusion, but to the contrary, makes stark contrast between the advertiser's goods and the trademark-owner's goods.

    But it is odd that an ad on a website which slams to, but not over the brink, of honesty a product by name is blessed, while informing users via metatags or iNet portal keyword purchases that their interest in a competitor's product implies they should look at their different product. And thus, this may not be, and is probably not, the law.

    But the devil is in the details -- cases swing 180 degrees depending upon subtle facts -- and the Courts are just now beginning to articulate how we distinguish between fair competition and unlawful infringement, between fair "hey, look at me when you look at them" competition, and "hey, buy my stuff because I'm them" free-riding on another's goodwill.

    I wish I could report simple, bright-line rules to govern conduct in this arena today, but they don't exist as I write this. Just as in plain, published prose, some uses of a trademark of another in a metatag may be infringing, while other uses may not be. The particular facts of each case, including the particulars of the mark itself, will determine the result.
  • Pez-sex, now that would rile them up. But of course the only thing they can do is give 'Head'.

    More seriously, this is ridiculous.

    Also, the leagalese says all feedback becomes their property. I couldn't find a feedback link...

  • Basically correct, but the DVD thing is a very bad example, because defeating the region coding on DVDs is illegal in the United States.

    Suppose I wished to defeat regional coding on DVD's. I could do this by importing DVD players with different regional codings from various countries, thus giving me a "full set" of DVD players. While expensive, this is not illegal: for example, I could be building a computer in one country for re-export to another country that corresponds to that region coding. In fact, if companies wanted to stop me importing these players, they may themselves be guilty of violating free-trade laws.
  • PEZ(tm) is a US company, right?

    Is it then unreasonable to assume that they are using US layers to inforce a US law?

    I am walming a chair in Sydney Australia right now. What if, when I was 19 years old, I put up a 2 page confession to buying a case of beer, which to your US layes is a crime, but in Austalia they will help you to your car with it.

    If I put this page up on say Geocities (US company) is that a crime? vs. say putting it on a server in my home land?

    My point boils down to a matter of boundries. Can Pez(tm) drag me off this walm chair and half way accross the earth to be sued in an American court room for infringement of copywrite if my beer page is META'd up with PEZ references? I know they won't, but CAN they? I hope not, I hate your beer, no offence :)

    Secondary point: You know we are all in the wrong game, don't you? What do you reckon these layers are being paid for their trivial persuits?
  • xerox lost trademark status... whoever handles these things decided it was a common word, and so you can "xerox" a piece of paper with a xerox machine not made by Xerox, the company.

    or so was my understanding, for, as always, IANAL

    Lea
  • Good point. Well, actually, Rob violated this one by posting the story with quote. Evidently, everyone on the web is supposed to refer to it as "the candy formerly known as P?Z".

  • Nope, not just the meta tags. The makers of P?Z forbid you to use the word P?Z anywhere on the web. So you've just run afoul of their landsharks, because /. is on the web.

  • Or

    1111 1111 1111
    1 1 1 1
    111 111 1
    1 1 1
    1 1111 1111

    "Your honor, it doesn't use the complainant's trademark. It clearly says, '1111 1111 1111.'"

    Looks terrible in Lynx! Rob, please stop making everything centered. It is hard to read when the whole page is center-aligned. Grumble, grumble.

  • (Second attempt to subvert the fancy tables and centering)

    XXXX..XXXX..XXXX
    X..X..X.......X.
    XXX...XXX....X..
    X.....X.....X...
    X.....XXXX..XXXX

    "Your honor, it doesn't use the complainant's trademark. It clearly says, 'XXXX..XXXX..XXXX.'"

    What I see in the preview is not how it shows up when submitted. :-(

  • I don't know if anyone else knows this, but pez means fish in spanish! This throws their whole dirty trademark out the window! "I was simply refferring to the word fish in spanish". Also, I don't know if anyone's said this yet, but Pez probably won't go around suing everyone, its just to cover their bases. furthermore, pez means fish.
  • This is dumb. So if I develop software with Delphi or Visual Basic (god forbid), then I cannot put those words in my meta keywords? What about Java? What if I like Coke? What if I wear Levi's, and have a Dell. What if I sell any of these things? This is ridiculous. Meta tags are for categorization, and searching. To claim that is the same as trademark infringement is preposterous.
  • Once I was designing a web page for a company, and put all the company's competitors' names in the Meta tags. A few months later we got a nasty letter from one of the companies I'd named threatening legal action. Not wanting any trouble, I changed the tags accordingly.

    While legally I don't think I did anything wrong, I still can't take the moral high ground here - I was trying to trick people into visiting a website they may not have been interested in.
  • by Bob-K ( 29692 ) on Thursday October 07, 1999 @02:44AM (#1632057)
    When I first got involved with the web, it was with a news-like organization. We produced some material, it was legitimately copyrighted. And we felt the impulse to ensure that nobody stole it and used it on their web site.

    Of course, this was impossible, right or wrong. And no matter how many lawyers we had, and even if they worked for free (one did), there was simply no way to efficiently eliminate all traces of copyright violation. There are too many millions of people with the ability to copy something, and it took too much effort to even warn them about copyright violation.

    Yes, copyright and trademark still exist on the web; nobody can effectively copy your site wholesale, nobody can get away with selling phony products under your name for very long, nobody can use your trademarks to direct people to their own site. Those sorts of major violations are easy enough to counter, just as they have always been. But when you talk about a zillion little violations... like fans using your name in their metatags... let it go. You can't win. All you'll accomplish is to piss off your loyal customers.

    That said, I understand the need for these disclaimers; if they were actually chasing down minor violators, that would be quite annoying. A better idea is to protect a trademark by specifically allowing it to be used in certain ways, and having the lawyers chase down only the worst abusers.

    The web works under a sort of de facto copyright law: if it can be done below the radar of the lawyers, then you might as well condone it, because you can't stop it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Indeed, that's what they want. Intimidation is a major tool of their trade.
  • This is not directly related to the PEZ case, but very relevent to the tradmmark discussion in general. A lot of the comments here refer to the fact that Trademarks are only valid when used in association with the appropiate trade section, eg Bills Fruit and Apple store has nothing to fear from Apple Computers.

    However, this is not the case in the UK where the 1994 Trade Marks Act extended that protection to dissimilar products. but it has not been effective because companies have argued successfully that they had a valid reason to adopt the name. According to a Story in the Financial times [ft.com] Visa successfuly blocked the use of their trademark in regard to a unrelated product (Condoms, in this case)

    This could have a worse precedent than the PEZ case
    --
  • could be a club of people who like aquaria (not sure if that's english) and most of those things do have fish in them.

    //rdj
  • Good point. I was looking at the scenario where a person was mislead into believing they could buy the Frobozz policy there and I maintain my opinion on the wrongness of such practices. I hadn't thought about the scenario you described and I wouldn't want to condemn that kind of use of the Frobozz name.
    --
  • This new bit of jargon just lept out and hit me.

    Pez: (n) a small candy brand, originally dispensed
    by plastic Pez-dispensers. Dispensers are now collectable. Thought to be a gimmik used to sell more Pez by claiming to be a smoking-habit substitute (with the dispensers).

    Pez (2): n & v Silly pointless babble, made to
    seem serious by either threats of litigation or
    an ornate Public Relations mechanism, known as
    a "Pez dispenser". Possibly more verb-able as
    pezzing.

    -/ Well, that's a little inexact. I guess you
    really do nead jargon-file gathering types out
    there, it's harder than it looks! /-

    Or am I just Pezzing here?
  • Oh dear. Don't I feal stupid now ;) maybe I should have done some research before posting.
  • I have massively violated the PEZ Policy. http://www.pabs2000.com/pabs_info/pez.html
  • > Is there a precident for this case?

    There have been a number of cases involving meta tags. I keep a page about the topic at http://searchenginewatch.com/ resources/metasuits.html [searchenginewatch.com].

    The short answer is:
    -- Anyone can sue anyone
    -- Winning is another issue. The legalities of trademark terms in meta tags (or indeed, anywhere on a web page) are still being sorted out. Unfortunately, there's been too much emphasis on meta tags as some how requiring special regulation.

  • My Pez website is screwed.
  • Ah, you figured that out by using BabelPez, did you? ;-)
    ---
  • : If a company holds a trademark and don't
    : pursue _every_ "alleged unlawful" use of
    : it, then they can't pursue _any_ of them

    Then they've made their own job impossible with this policy. What's the chance they'll be able to trace down and eliminate the thousands of pages that currently mention Pez? If they simply pursued the naughty ones--say, sites trying to sell knock-off products with "Pez" hidden in their META tags--then it would be reasonable.


  • Ok, that's cool, but what you may not realise is that there are in fact a whole lot of sheep out there who do use brand names for generic nouns.

    And on a side note, I bet even you do it without realising: Do you say 'spam', or do you say 'unsolicited commercial email'? =)
  • Okay, lemme see... I have managed to trademark a product called '<html>'. (ain't I clever?).

    Now I'm looking for a lawyer who forces (under penalty threat) the Wild West Web community NOT TO USE THE COPYRIGHTED NAME '<html>' IN ANY PART OF A WEB SITE ANY LONGER, ELSE ...

    Would that work, and if yes, what could be done to stop nonsense like that?

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday October 07, 1999 @03:08AM (#1632076) Homepage Journal
    Well, I don't think the case of a compeitor also selling candy is that clear cut either.

    Competitors use each other's trademarks all the time in comparative advertising. Apple is constantly comparing the PPC to the Pentium. Would their using the Pentium trademark in meta tags to fish for search engine queries looking for Pentium performance information constitute infringement? Not at all.

    If, however, they were attempting to sell bootleg pentiums, that would be a different story.

    In what for the newbies is the wild cyberfronteir, a lot of people aren't sure what the rules are. Some companies are trying to squat on as much territory as they can by tearing around the bush making all kinds of scary noises. Basically, they're all a bunch of shmucks. The serious competition isn't going to be scared off by empty legal chest thumping, but their potential _friends_ are. If some poor idiots who are shelling out their own hard earned cash to create an aftermarket for Pez dispensers close up shop because of this, the company deserves to have to spend more of its own money on lawyers and advertising.
  • Since each of the strings "PEZ", "Pez", "pez", etc will come up about once in 16.7MB of random 8-bit data, we have all probably violated it in "some way, shape, or form." Compressed data is pretty random but not so predictable as encrypted data where the once-per-16.7MB rule would hold pretty true.

    At least I don't put encrypted or compressed data in my meta tags or they'd probably have sued me by now. ;)
  • That's not true. "Fair use" is also a concept applied to trademarks. I'm not a lawyer either, but I've found a good web page on the topic by someone who is [cll.com]. Recommended reading to anyone interested in this issue.

    --

  • First of all, since Pez is a trademark, the Pez company has a lot of leeway as to what they can and cannot do with their trademark. In this case, it seems to me like they are trying to cover their ass - preventing their trademark from being used by porn sites and the like. Has anyone actually heard of any of the Pez collectors being approached by Pez, Inc, to have sites taken down? I doubt it, since it isn't mentioned. Have they sued anyone yet? How long has this policy been in place?

    In this case, I'd bet dollars to donuts that this policy is not meant to be used against legit collectors - only against people who try to resell in violation of their reseller agreements(which is a massive violation, and not of free speech), who slander the company(Pez is poison!), and those who use it in a sex site ( That girl's got a great set of Pez!) Like many other topics here on Slashdot, I think there is a large amount of overreacting going on here. Lawyers occasionally overstep while attempting to cover their butts. Their policy says one thing - let's not worry until they start enforcing it hardcore. I got better things to do with my time.
  • The problem there is you don't know their IP address unless it's clear from the logs who they are. To solve this problem here is a neat trick. Most people uses a mail reader that supports HTML encoding. You can embed an small one pixel image or perhaps a business card in your email. It should be embedded as an external image with no actual data in the mail.

    Assuming they are using a mail reader that will fetch the image (Outlook will), you will have your IP address as soon as they read their mail. Outlook uses IE to fetch such images, so even if they are going through a proxy you'll know the right IP. This is also a useful trick to learn the exact time someone has read your mail... it can also be used to learn where someone lives, by using a traceroute to their IP address. hehe.

    If they are using a web-based mail account this won't work of course, but most businesses don't.

  • We need a new tag to mark important words within the text. Such as:

    This page discusses the different <keyword>flavors</keyword> and <keyword>colors</keyword> of <keyword>Pez</keyword> <keyword>candy</keyword>

    The meta tags are seperate from the page, you can't normally see them, but I don't think a court will easily censor the contents of a web-page.

    EjB
  • Der Idiot hat offenbar viel zu viel Kölsch getrunken ...

    (The idiot obviously had way too much Kölsch[1] Beer to drink.)

    While I am normally against the death penalty, it does seem uniquely well suited for people like this, who not only try to get a free ride using someone elses work, but do so with deliberate, malicious intent to harm the communal good as widely as possible. Parasites of the lowest order. *sigh*

    [1]Kölsch is a type of beer brewed in Cologne, the hometown of the fool trying to trademark "@"
  • Pez's point of view is obviously that if someone types "Pez" into a search engine and they get back a bunch of links, a reasonable person might think that the returned sites might be somehow affiliated with Pez. Perhaps they're wrong, but I don't think its unreasonable of them to make the argument.

    In fact, such a point of view is unreasonable on its face. For instance, the "Jail to the Chief" stamp site [jailtothechiefstamp.com] uses "Clinton" as a meta tag, but no one in his right mind would suppose that it might be affiliated with Bill Clinton.

    The fact is that any reasonable person typing the name of any corporation, public figure, etc into a search engine would expect to pull up a wide range of sites, including officially sponsored sites, unofficial booster sites, unofficial detractor sites, and neutral review sites.
    /.

  • So what if your name is Pete Edward Zeffer, and you happen to want to put your initals in the meta-author tag?

  • Guess we're going to have to start referencing it as "the-candy-formerly-known-as-PEZ"

    ;-)
  • Totally a knee-jerk uninformed reaction to a knee-jerk uninformed reaction, now let me quote their press release, and you can use your brain to figure it out

    Usages such as THE PEZ STORE, THE PEZ MUSEUM, THE PEZ COLLECTOR, THE PEZ TRADER, THE PEZ FANATIC, THE PEZ CAR are specifically prohibited...

    What IMO it appears they are trying to do is not shut down porn sites from hijacking their webpage hits, but shut down fan sites. They run a collectors store off of their website and they probably don't like Joe and John Public running a personal trading site, because it cuts into their profits.

    The Pet Rock and all other trademarks you see today are registered to Biff Cool you may not think about them under penalty of law unless appropriate royalty fees are payed. That and I've got a patent pending on posting comments

  • I think this is probably to prevent some damn porn site from doing what ZDNet called "domain hijacking", but is really just copying the Pez page because no one is taking the actual domain.

    I seriously doubt that they would prosecute you for doing a review on Pez dispensers. However, they might come after you if you did an inflammatory Anti-Pez Site (don't use logos!!). If you had gobs of money and a good lawyer you could probably beat the case based on "Freedom of Press" as long as your site wasn't too elementary.

    JOhn
  • instead of having pez in your meta tag just put metapez in your tag. then we put a button on serch engines that says click here meta search.

    if you click on the button, it will put the word meta in front of your search words. then you click on search and then the pez company will never come up.

    just a thought.
  • I don't see that as qualifying those people as sheep unless because of using those words, they only buy those brands. Using Kleenex as a synonym for tissue has been common practice for at least twenty years (probably more), and Coke for a type of cola is a regional thing (primarily in the south).

    This leads to massive confusion when you ask for a Coke and they reply "What kind?".
    "Uh Regular?"
    "Regular what?"
    [Scream... run out door to escape impending Abbot and Costello bit].

  • I'm just wondering about the subject of lying about the law in general, not about whether Pez Candy inc. is doing that.

    If a company's lawyers publish a document saying "You may not foo", but foo is actually perfectly legal, have they done something wrong in the eyes of the law?

    I believe that if the company actually sues me for fooing, but fooing isn't illegal *and the company lawyers knew it* there are serious repercussions to the company and/or its lawyers, personally.

    If there isn't a lawsuit, but merely the threat of one, what does the situation look like then?
    --

  • First, does the HTML have to be interpreted, or could this get someone sued:



    If so, who?

    PS. Sorry if I just got you guys sued.

    PPS. One more question.. in my above example, whoever gets sued, would it be on 4 different incidents?
  • Would be a moot point if 10,000 slashdotters put this tag in their sites: <META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="pez, sux">
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There's a significant difference between the two Playboy cases.

    In the Calvin Designer case, Calvin had no particular association with Playboy, but was using meta tags merely to attract business. By using the tag, Calvin was implicitly claiming sponsorship, endorsement, or affiliation with Playboy, and no such affiliation exists. Playboy Enterprises had a legitimate claim that the meta tag was diluting their trademark.

    In the Welles case, there's no consumer confusion. Welles claimed to be legitimately advertising past sponsorship or affiliation with Playboy. Guess what? If I'm an ex-Playmate, then I am free to speak truthfully, and point that fact out. There might be a contractual case between Playboy Enterprises and Ms. Welles about the use of that fact in advertising materials, but that would be a different matter entirely.

    FWIW, I happen to think that Welles and her representatives were disingenuous in their free speech claims. My guess is that the court probably agreed. That doesn't matter; it was clearly a free speech issue, and the court protected her First Amendment rights. Playboy would have had to prove that she was lying about her intent, and that's incredibly hard. The court can't limit free expression just because it thinks the defendant is lying; there has to be evidence presented to support this view.

  • I think you've got a very weird definition of "most people"
  • Just to tweak their noses, everyone should put Pez(r) in their MetaTags. Just phrase it something like:
    Pez(r) is a registered trademark of Pez Candy Co.
    live free or die
  • IANAL.

    As I understand it, for it to be illegal in UK law, it must be shown that the user is genuinely trying to confuse people about their identity with regard to the trademark in question.

    If I produce candy similar to the PEZ product, and then put PEZ in the meta tags there is probably some grounds for prosecution, since I am hoping to fool some people into thinking I sell genuine PEZ.

    If I run a (commercial) site about market penetration of various candy products, and put trademarks like 'mars' 'PEZ' 'polo' 'smarties' in my metatags - that's probably OK.

    And of course a private non-profit site should be pretty safe.

    In all cases you'd probably need to acknowledge the trademark ownerships.
  • by Xemu ( 50595 ) on Thursday October 07, 1999 @12:49AM (#1632116) Homepage
    There is a case Playboy Enterprises, Inc. v. Calvin Designer Label where the court ruled that Calvin could not use Playboy in its metatags. The court's decision suggests that metatags may constitute infringement even though they are invisible to a viewer of the infringing user's web site.
  • by Get Behind the Mule ( 61986 ) on Thursday October 07, 1999 @12:55AM (#1632117)
    Quick searches for "Pez" at Lycos, Altavista and Google yield a number of private pages by Pez fans and dispenser collectors ("PEZheads") -- "What's New in the World of Pez", "Dale's House of Pez", "Planet Pez", "Museum of Pez Memoribilia" and on and on. There's dozens of them. That's not too surprising -- any hobby, no matter how weird, has got a home page somewhere. And a lot of these pages have "pez" in the Meta-tags.

    I am astonished at the idea that Pez might actually prosecute these people. I can't see how they'd have a case, since they're not appropriating the term to sell a product, they're just using it to help the other PEZheads find them. The problem, of course, is that when you get a threatening letter from a lawyer, you're going to have to fight back at great expense, or cave in.

    But worst of all, these are people who like this company and buy its products! "Prosecute to the full extent of the law", they say. They're threatening to ruin their most loyal customers, on legal grounds that may be wholly spurious! There may be a worse way for a company to shoot itself in the foot, but right now I can't think of any. Imagine the David v. Goliath stories in the press about a stunned PEZhead under attack from the company he thought he loved. Have these people lost their minds?
  • by jht ( 5006 ) on Thursday October 07, 1999 @01:00AM (#1632118) Homepage Journal
    From what little I could decipher, it looks like their intent is to have a tool they can use to stop the Pez traders and speculators if they want (some of those folks can give the manufacturer a bad name by misrepresenting themselves or screwing customers) - and taking them off the web is a handy way to do so. But they are going about it in a brain-damaged way by trying to paint the whole web with this brush. Their policy also has the effect of (in theory) banning fan sites, legitimate dealers of Pez, reviewers, and news sites from mentioning the name. Trademarks can, AFAIK, be policed for appropriate usage, and precedent has been made on the issue of META tags (thanks to Playboy, if I recall), but Pez's policy goes overboard and would be likely to get smacked down in court.

    When it comes to trademarks, I believe it goes something like this:
    Referring to Xerox as a copier company: OK
    Talking about "making xeroxes of that paper": BAD (Xerox is a trademark, not a term - the "correct" reference would be to "making copies")
    Putting "Xerox" as a META tag in your page: Gray area - but probably not OK
    Writing about Xerox (the company or the products)in your website: OK!
    Selling Xerox products over the web, by name: Probably OK, depending on your reseller agreement and if it allows Net sales by your company. Definitely OK if you have no agreement but have the products.

    Substitute "Pez" for Xerox above and you're pretty close to an AUP for Pez as well (except it would sound weird to say "I'm going to go down and make some pezzes of this report", wouldn't it?)

    I've got a feeling Pez is in for a bit of a Net spanking...

    - -Josh Turiel
  • According to my favourite [alltheweb.com] search engine, doing a search for Pez:

    53579 documents found - 0.0040 seconds search time

    ... which is obviously a non-starter for these guys. My guess is that they're covering their back as such, for a future time when either some online candy merchant tries to latch onto pez traffic or if they find porn sites that use pez to misdirect children. I'm no lawyer, but that seems like a good thing to me.

  • Just had to respond here...

    My name is Peter Pezaris (ironic, eh?), and
    for about 20 years now people have referred
    to me as Pez.

    When I first got involved with the web in 1995
    I thought about registering pez.com, but opted
    against it fearing a law suit down the road.

    -Pez
  • I'n guessing this would also apply to XML tags.. ;-P Hopefully, that PEZ Collectors shop didn't want to create an XML interface to their sales system.. DoH!
  • by webcrafter ( 175 ) on Thursday October 07, 1999 @01:05AM (#1632141) Homepage
    In Spanish, pez means fish (and has two other lesser meanings) so if I do a website about fishing or aquaria, I will use pez in the metatags, as it is not the pez(R) trademark but a common word instead.
  • Is there some joke I don't know about? Is PEZ some crazy geek icon like Spam? Who the hell embedded "PEZ" in their code?

    There are a number of people who collect PEZ (Oh, Pez people please don't sue me for using it here!!!) much like people collect Beanie Babies. They trade and sell them rampantly on the net (no, I have no link, I don't care).

    I have a feeling this is what the Pez people are mad about.

    Hmm, maybe I should try a google search of "Pez is more evil than Satan himself [google.com]"

    Ok, these people are insane. Then again, they probably think I'm insane for collecting computers nobody else wants (Hey, dumb terminals!).

    Actually, I just got an old Sun 3/80 workstation. All I need now is a cable to connect the monitor and an ethernet x-ceiver...

    Actually, I don't think this will hold any water, else Hormel would have gotten really pissed long ago due to the negative connotations associated with the word "spam."
  • I am not a lawyer, and I am not a citizen of the USA, but that's not going to stop me commenting on both anyway :)


    First of all, WTF is an "unregistered trademark?". How can you know if you're violating an unregistered trademark or not? Maybe someone could clear up what they mean by this - but it sounds like nonsense.


    Secondly, the point of trademark law is to stop company B passing itself off as company A by using the same or a similar name. So if your company has spent the last twenty years making "Miracle Widgets" and has gained a great reputation, you would be entitled to take action against a new company called "Miracles Widgets" who might be trying to pass themselves off to customers as you. On the other hand, your reputation as a widget maker would be irrelevent to, say, advertising, so "Miracle Advertising Consultancy" would probably not be considered to be passing off.


    If I create a "Widget World" web site for discussion and news on the widget industry, I am perfectly at liberty to use the name of Miracle Widgets, even though it's a trademark, as long as there's no way someone looking at the site would think that my site was actually run by Miracle Widgets. It's this right that allows news sites, fan sites, etc, etc to exist. Just think how long ZDnet would last if they weren't allowed to use any trademarked names.


    So the question is this; does trademark law in the US, either in statute or precedent, go beyond this simple protection of a business's name from any unscrupulous competitors who might try to deceive the public?


    If it does, it's broken.


    I fully appreciate that the law probably is much more complex than that. But it shouldn't be.


    Let's assume for the moment that the law upholds the above principles, but doesn't go any further. (Laws that don't go far enough are a bad thing; laws that go too far are generally worse.) Let's look at the meta tags issue.


    If I have a site which regularly discusses Miracle Widgets, then it would be entirely appropriate to use "Miracle" in the meta tags - the site would be a source of information about Miracle Widgets. As long as I don't actually try to sell people widgets, I'm fine.


    Note that this doesn't mean I can't make money from the site. It doesn't matter if it's commercial or non-commercial. I'm allowed to discuss Miracle Widgets on the site in good or bad terms, as often as I like, as long as I never attempt to make them think I *am* Miracle Widgets. It's up to a court to decide whether I am engaging in legitimate discussion, or whether I'm trying to deceive the public. Simply using the word "Miracle" does not place me in breach of trademark.


    Having a site which discusses Pez Candy is not in breach of their trademark unless I try to pass myself of as Pez Candy. I can set up a trading site for Pez Candy. I can write good or bad things about it. I can make money out of doing so. As long as I don't infringe their trademark (which means a lot more than just using the word) there's nothing they can do about it.


    Does the law work this way? If not, why not? Doesn't it seem remarkably... fair?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 07, 1999 @01:13AM (#1632146)
    Yeah. Such a stoopid rule could backfire easily. So, yeah, in order to taunt them, you put "pez" metatags all over the place. And sure enough, eventually, they happen on your page, and sick their landsharks to check the situation out. You, as a diligent webmaster, notice these sharkvisits in your http.referer_log, and dutifully "special case" any access from the shark's IP adresses. No, you don't block them, but rather redirect them to a cgi script which waits an awful lot of time, and then just closes the connection. The landsharks will just assume that your site is really really busy, or that your Linux box is flaky. So they'll attempt to come back again, and again. In the meantime, you can make the thing even more interesting: for example, you can redirect them to the chargen port of their own router in order to crash their Internet Explorer (tm). Being landsharks, and not computer professionals, they won't understand that it's all on purpose, and will keep trying. Then you can put a page for them that basically says "due to the overwhelming success of our froo-pez site, we have to limit the number of visitors. Please solve the following simple puzzles to get on the site". Your pet sharks try to solve the puzzles in order to get to the "evidence" site, but o dear Murphy, the site always keeps crashing whenever they've almost solved the puzzle.

    Finally, the landsharks give up, and present a huge bill for all that wasted time to Pez.

    Farfetched? Wishful thinking? Not at all. I personnally managed to keep E*Trade's lawyers busy during almost three weeks using such silly games until they finally gave up.

  • Totally a knee-jerk, uninformed reaction. Read their press release and use your brain to understand what it means. Pez are taking a proactive step to keep porno sites (and others) from hijacking their web site by misappropriating their trademarked name in the hijacker's meta tags.

    The hijacker is in effect representing themselves as Pez in order to obtain traffic otherwise destined for Pez's site. If someone put up a billboard on the side of the road that said "Free Pez, call 1-900-NAUGHTY-BITS", I doubt anyone would think poorly of Pez if they sent their lawyers crawling up the pornographers proverbial butt.

    This is absolutely no different. In a very specific, defensible way, they have said that misrepresenting yourself as Pez on the Internet by using Pez's trademarks will be considered an infringement and will be prosecuted.

    And a note for the armchair lawyers here, "fair use" applies to copyrights, not trademarks. And the current trademark law REQUIRES that a trademark holder defend infringements on their mark or risk losing it to the public domain. Any responsible business SHOULD do this. I think Pez has chosen a completely acceptable approach to a problem that afflicts a huge number of sites. I hope they follow through and actually sue some of the hijackers.

    Or do you think that porno sites *should* be able to hijack traffic otherwise bound for businesses by using a trademark they don't hold in the meta tags of their site?
  • Here is my approximate (TM) translation.

    (5.10.99) The editors had a great laugh. Six months ago, Volker Jungbluth, opportunities-contributor to the industry periodical C'T, wanted to deny the internet world the phrase "Site Promotion". Editors could report on the best way to publicise a web page only using a "TM" after the phrase.

    Despite being ignored by the internet community, it was an issue for web [content?] providers. Some companies advertising on the web using phrases like "webspace", "explorer" or "site-promotion" were mercilessly threatned, often by the notorious Munich lawyer Gravenrueth.

    Today a new absurdity came across the editors' desk: the 43year old entrepeneur from Cologne Norbert Helling stated through his lawyer Hans-Jürgen Amend that the @-sign had patent protection for printed products. Attached was a copy of "Design patent book 12", dated 25.6.1999

    In this, Hellig didn't even bother to design a single @-sign. The patent description concerned a letter in the font "Times". The figure is described as "letter a". Our lawyer will have a look at the documentation. We will keep you up to date on the soundness of potential warnings from this.
  • by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <ed@membled.com> on Thursday October 07, 1999 @01:41AM (#1632166) Homepage

    In fact, the so-called legal docuement doesn't just try to forbid use of 'meta' tags. It tries to totally exclude certain phrases from the English language:

    You may NOT use the PEZ® mark (or any other registered trademark belonging to Pez Candy, Inc. or its affiliates) on your website or your business in any way, shape or form. Usages such as THE PEZ STORE, THE PEZ MUSEUM, THE PEZ COLLECTOR, THE PEZ TRADER, THE PEZ FANATIC, THE PEZ CAR are specifically prohibited

    IANAL, but I'm sure that this is unenforceable bullshit. You can mention any trademark, as long as you acknowledge the owner (eg, Pez is a trademark of Pez Corporation). You just can't make a similar product under the same name. (In the UK, you can't make a dissimilar product if consumers might be confused or it's thought that you're trading on the name - eg yesterday the Trade Marks Registry prohibited the sale of 'Visa' condoms.)

    Given that they stick in a lot of rubbish about not mentioning their trademarks, it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that their prohibition of 'meta' tags is also without legal weight. (Again, IANAL.)

    Besides, you never signed that document - you don't have to abide by its terms.

Put not your trust in money, but put your money in trust.

Working...