Is Your Trademark Protection Out of Control?Monday, February 1, 2010 20:46
I have been in this industry for 3 years now. I have worked for Inc 500 companies, small time operations and now for myself. Something that I have always had a problem with is online trademark violation. I find that many companies are just going overboard when it comes to what they will allow you to use to promote their products.
One of these companies running on CJ has just given me the boot from their program and retracted all of my earnings. This is a loss of about 2k and a few weeks of time. So what happened?
Lets call this company “Widgets” for the sake of this post. My first attempt at promoting this site was with a site called WidgetsCoupons.com a highly searched term. The company freely mails out these coupons to affiliates each month to help with promotions.
A few weeks go by and CJ contacts me about my trademark infringement and demands I fix the problem and gives me the terms again. Yes I know I was breaking them by having “Widgets” in my domain but it was just for SEO reasons. I never claimed I was the company or had anything to do with them other than trying to promote the use of the coupons.
So I get a new domain, one without the term “Widgets” in it. I write them back saying I was sorry and everything had been fixed. I received an e-mail back thanking me and I move on. A few weeks pass and I have worked on the site even more. Suddenly I am presented with an email once again from CJ stating I am banned from this campaign and all earnings are being retracted from its sales.
They gave no reason this time, just stated that I was banned and could never run it again. I am waiting on a reply from them but having read their terms once again the only thing I can see is meta tags.
That’s right. CJ has listed in their terms that you cannot have the term “Widgets” in any meta tags on your site since that is trademark infringement. This is where I feel things are getting out of hand. How can you ask people to promote your products and basically say that you cannot put the term “Widgets” anywhere on your site. I say anywhere since my site was auto generating its meta tags based on the content of the page.
So because my page was about “Widgets” my meta keywords, and meta description both included the term. I was there by breaking the rules according to CJ and removed from the program.
I have two degrees in business and I understand the reasons behind this but many companies are just taking things to the extreme. They are so insecure with their online presence that they are afraid their affiliates will out rank them or some how confuse their customers. But in doing so aren’t they just hurting them selves more though a reduction in sales? If I make a site saying how great “Widgets” are and how everyone needs to buy them and then send that traffic to the “Widgets” home page. Isn’t this in fact helping the business make more sales?
Companies need to realize that affiliates are not the enemy. The whole reason you have an affiliate program is to gain marketing and sales. Affiliates should be seen as partners in your marketing efforts. They should be afforded just as much use of your trademark as you would if you hired a marketing company. By crippling us you are only crippling your selves. Allow us the use of your logo and brand name, we are not all scammers and fraudsters.