Swiss court decides the legality of metatags

Switzerland

The Commercial Court of the Canton of Aargau has decided an action aiming to enjoin one party from using other parties' trademarks and firm names as metatags in the source text of its website.

The trademarks involved were SODASTREAM, SODASTAR and SODACLUB. The plaintiffs had alleged trademark infringement, firm name usurpation and unfair competition.

The court dismissed the plaintiffs' action on all three grounds for two reasons. First, the defendant was legally offering the plaintiffs' branded goods for sale. Second, there was no danger of confusion under trademark or unfair competition law as the contents of the defendant's web site did not create the impression of any connection to the plaintiffs, their businesses or their goods.

This decision is in line with the view the Austrian Supreme Court took in a decision rendered late last year. The use of a registered trademark as a metatag is permitted where the website contains information that is related to the trademark, provided that the website owner does not create the impression that its business is connected to the trademark owner.

Felix H Thomann, ThomannFischer, Basel

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