Court sets precedent on metatag use


In the first Italian case to address the issue, the use of a metatag that reproduces a competitor's trademark has been deemed an act of unfair competition. As a result, courts are free to grant interlocutory injunctions to protect against trademark infringement.

The case before the Court of Rome involved two insurance companies, La Trieste e Venezia Assicurazioni Genertel and Crowe Italia. La Trieste, the plaintiff, alleged that Crowe had incorporated the word 'genertel' as a metatag into its web site, and was indexed as such with the main search engines. As a result, the plaintiff claimed, Crowe's use of the metatag meant that internet users would be brought to Crowe's site when otherwise they may not have.

The court ruled that the defendant's behaviour amounted to unlawful exploitation of the plaintiff's efforts to promote its business, particularly since both parties are involved in the same kind of business. The court went on to say that the incorporation of the metatag into Crowe's site was representative of a kind of economic parasitism, and therefore ordered the defendant to cease using the word 'genertel' as a metatag.

Andrea Lazzaretti, Rinaldi e Associati, Rome

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