TradeMarks and Keyword stuffing

Trademark Enforcement of a Certain Term Within Open Source

So, I don't want to say the term, but it's clear from this search that a company has been going around to various places and enforcing a trademark. When that happens to open source projects, it gets discussed in public and everybody knows about that action. If they do it to some close-walled company then the discussion is inside the walls and nobody knows. So, thanks to the open practices of open source projects, people can know what kind of a company they are dealing with when they deal with Collabrio.

Keyword Stuffing

One of the "tricks" of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that people will try to use is called "keyword stuffing". Basically, search engines use the frequency and density of certain keywords to determine the importance of a word on a site. It makes sense that if I write a certain word or phrase a high number of times in my pages that it's an important word to me and probably the subject of the page. Webmasters (and SEOs) will take the keywords for which you are trying to get a good ranking and weave them into more parts of the site and content so that your site gets a high ranking. In the "if 2 is good, 100 is better" mindset, this can be pushed too far and the content no longer makes sense. So, what if you could use the word on the page hundreds of times but hide it from users by making the text white on a white background? This would confuse search engines into giving you a higher ranking than you deserve! Search engines don't like to be tricked. Tricking them means that their results are less valuable to their users.

Reporting Keword Stuffers

Search engines are busy writing tools to identify sites that are trying to "game" their systems and then exclude those sites from the results. In order to test those tools and also as a manual check on quality, some search engines use a Spam Report Form (although the folks at Hormel probably wish it were a "Junk Website Report Form").

What is the connection?

The original company that I was talking about - the company that was enforcing a relatively stupid trademark on a term that some marketing idiot dreamt up in 1996 - they were using keyword stuffing with hidden text on their home page.

keyword stuffing

And, sure enough, they are no longer in the search engine results page, even for a search of their own domain name

MyEvents.com search on Google

My Role in This

And I'm not going to kid around about the situation - I reported them for the keyword stuffing. Me, personally. And my motivation is pretty clear: they were going to a higher authority to enforce the proper use of a trademarked term. That's fine. My response is inline with their own values: I went to a higher authority to enforce proper web standards. Google is pretty clear about the right thing to do in situations where someone is gaming their engine and I followed that advice.

Bottom Lines

Don't go around threatening legal action for an unimportant trademark when you simultaneously use stupid techniques to try to fool the search engines.

Don't hire an idiot SEO. SEO is easy if you do it the right way, and surprise the right way is also the standards compliant and "good business" way.

Don't do the Chicken Soup Dance, the Straight Leg Chicken Claw is way better.

Don't mess with Texas.

Comments

BRAVO!

I rarely read the aggregator over at Drupal but did today.
Love it, love it, love.
Don't mess with Texas indeed!

the google search for

the google search for myevents.com returns results now.

true, but not really

greggles's picture

It returns results for other pages (including this one) but it doesn't return the www.myevents.com domain.

See this explanation on threadwatch.

Also, that's why I took the picture. I assume at some point they will wisen up (though they haven't yet) and at that point the screenshots will be the only thing to prove the point.

Thanks, though, anonymous comcast user in Seattle.

Now back in Google

Actually the site and all it's pages are now back on Google - they were even ranked first when I last checked.

different company

greggles's picture

Hi,

Please see my last comment on this. A different company www.myevents.com/my is ranked #1 for both myevents.com and www.myevents.com searches. It's not the company that was (and still is) doing keyword stuffing.

Regards,
Greg

They haven't wised up yet...

I just checked their site... and they're still keyword stuffing...

Hi Guys - bet you'll love this.

Hi Greg and all -

I'd like to set the record straight, if you're willing to listen.

First of all, we did hire a "SEO Expert" to optimize our website a few years ago, which is why all the tags. We'll be removing the ones that are not appropriate asap.

Greg's malicious attack was uncool. Seriously, his "They went to a higher authority" argument for what he did is bullshit. We didn't ever get attornies involved - we tried to keep it neighborly, as neighborly as you can be when your neighbor is starting to build on your property. We contacted folks directly, rather than having attorneys do it - did Greg contact us and say "Hey MyEvents - if you hold yourself in such high esteem, stop SEO spamming." Had he been a good neighbor, we would have said, "thanks Greg, we'll take care of that - our pimply faced SEO expert may not be as smart as we gave him credit."

But in regards to the Trademark infringement, c'mon. We do legitimately have the trademark MyEvents - and until now, have had no real issues. We asked folks at Drupal to simply change it since it was legitimately causing marketplace confusion. We actually had people contact us saying we charged their credit cards!!! We didn't.

We weren't unreasonable either - we simply asked that they put a space in the name - My Events. That is not trademarked, does exactly what they intended, and give us a little bit of shelter from the onslaught of marketplace confusion.

We tried to go about it in as nice a manner as we could. We didn't get our attorney involved. We contacted the folks at Drupal and Civicspace and asked them if they'd assist us - to be good neighbors on the Internet. We also did approach a few companies with the "MyEvents" name before we understood what was going on, letting them know that they were infringing upon our trademark, and asking them to please change it - again, just "put a space between My and Events". It really is not a big deal for Drupal, but it is a big deal for a small business that is getting slammed with calls. Now, we even have a Canadian company called MyEvent.com, making our little space even more confusing.

I'm sure some folks will have some great retorts to this. But hopefully for the folks who are unbiased, you'll see that we actually weren't assholes coming down on the little guy with guns blazing - we are a little guy simply asking Drupal to do the right thing, which they did, because they are cool.

In the future, for those of you who are cool enough, if you ever have any problems with content on MyEvents, I'd ask that perhaps you give us the benefit of the doubt and contact us directly.

But you could be like Greg...

fair points and site reinclusion request

greggles's picture

Hello,

I think you've made a good point about how I should have asked you to remove the keyword spamming prior to reporting it to Google. I do apologize for that.

If you don't already know, here is the way to get your site reincluded. It will take a few days. Only do the request once you are sure that you have cleaned your site of all promotion tactics that are against their webmaster guidelines.

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35843

However, 1) I still think that you should focus on parts of your business that are actually worthwhile and not enforcing a trademark that is already used on approximately 68,200 websites including Google, Microsoft, Oracle, MySQL(AB), Western Michigan University, University of Toronto, the list goes on and on including my favorite: Myevents. I linked to pages that contain myevents or where myevents is in the URL.

The trademark on MyEvents is only useful if people know that brand. Do they? Not according to Google trends.

2) The correspondences that I received showed that your employees (or you) have been "harassing" other people for use of the words and phrases that may be within their legal rights. People have spent money on their own lawyers in response to what were apparently repeated inquiries from you. I'm not sure that what you are doing is really quite as kind and gentle as you describe it.

Best regards and I hope you accept my apology.

Greg

TradeMarks and Keyword stuffing | Knaddison.com

It's genuinely very complex in this busy life to
listen news on TV, thus I simply use web for that reason, and obtain the most
up-to-date news.

Thanks Greg

Greg -

Thanks for your apology. While MyEvents is a very small brand, it is our brand, and that is why we got the trademark for it. Large multi-national companies have accidentally used our mark, and when we let them know (again, ALWAYS by phone/email, NEVER by attorneys), they have removed it.

Some of the comments about our trademark come from an "armchair trademark expert" who was stating on a public board that he didn't think he needed to obey our trademark, and nobody should be able to trademark MyEvents - I hardly know why he put up an argument, when all we were asking was that he place a space in between My and Events.

As you point out, we have noticed a rise in marketplace confusion with the name becoming much more popular (especially after MySpace - My... has become a very commonly used term - when we got our trademark, it was not the case). We have received emails and phone calls from people claiming we changed their cards - we didn't.

Thanks for the links to get reinstated into Google. Again, if you have any other issues with our site, please don't hesitate to contact us directly.

We were totally caught off guard with Drupal/CivicSpace's use of MyEvents and it's huge popularity. But that is why Trademarks exist, to help small business build their brand - we're not there yet, but hopefully someday.

Thanks again, and if you wouldn't mind, could you check our site once again in a few days to see if you see any other "spamming" - would appreciate it.

Final Followup

Greg -

We have removed the abundance of keywords and resubmitted our site to Google. Thank you for bringing that to our attention…. Oh wait, you didn’t. Greg, it's funny that you talk about us "going to a higher power" and "harassment." Did MyEvents have every Drupal site yanked out of Google for trademark infringement? No, we tried to handle it like adults. You had MyEvents pulled for keywords out of pure spite, which was your right, but now you (and effectively the Drupal community) have harmed our small company. From your apology, I believe you understand what you did was wrong, but you did harm us.

Furthermore, we're getting emails from your fans like this:

---------------- BEGIN EMAIL -----------------
FROM: "Timothy " XXXXXXX@fastmail.ca
DATE: Sat, 2 Sep 2006 21:25:13 +0000 (UTC)
TO: xxxx@myevent.com
SUBJECT: I'm Interested...

 .. in companies that aren't KEYWORD STUFFING ASSHOLES!  What a bunch of complete and utter asholes you people are.  I hope people use myevents and MYEVENTS and MyEvents *all* over the  place and totally scam you in return. 

Keyword stuffing your website is for amateurs and idiots. You appear to be both.
---------------- END EMAIL ----------------------

You want to talk about harassment?

Greg, if you have any compassion, I'd really appreciate it if you could amend your initial message about "trademarks and keyword stuffing" and put a slightly positive spin on it, letting folks know that we're not complete assholes, that we owned up to our mistake (as Drupal did with theirs), and that we immediately remedied the situation once it was brought to our attention by ourselves. We're just out to protect our brand (see my previous post about why I think you're way off base when you say that Trademarks are only for people who know about you - Trademarks are EXACTLY about protecting the little guy). I could get into “when were you made the preeminent authority on what threshold makes a brand a legitimate brand?,” but no.

Greg and all, it is quite unfortunate that the Internet has become a place where rather than trying to work out problems with individuals, you attempt to undermine their existence.

An analogy would be this:
Say you have a 10 year old car, not a great car, but your car that is reliable and you're proud of it. Now say that I accidentally crash into your car (sort of how Drupal crashed into MyEvents). You have 3 choices. You can:
1) Grab your neck, cry "whiplash" and hire an attorney to sue me (unfortunately what society has often come to these days).
2) Drive away with your dinged fender and chalk it up to bad luck.
3) You can say to me (the driver who caused the accident), "you made a mistake, how are you going to fix this problem that you've caused."

We chose to fix our issues with Drupal with #3, like adults. A forth alternative would be for me (after crashing into your car) to search your car for any defect and then report you to the department of motor vehicles, even though I hit you (Greg’s approach).

If any good comes from this incident, I'd hope that you and all reading this realize that while spiteful actions may give you 15 seconds of fame on your message board, they can have real life consequences. Greg, you didn't have the full story before you acted. Even in your retort, you make vast assumptions such as "I recommend you not focus on protecting your brand" and "trademarks are only useful when people know about them."
In my analogy above, Greg, would you have chosen #2, to walk away from damages your car suffered? Perhaps they should call you Ghandi, not Greg.

The actions MyEvents took towards Drupal and others were in accordance with #3 in my example above - trying to work out problems with adults like adults. Yes, some people didn't listen, and we needed to send them additional, less friendly messages (what you claim to be "harassment"). Two people (probably the ones you're referring to) acted less like adults and more like insolent children, sending us “armchair lawyer” emails stating, "You cannot trademark MyEvents - go away" (this being a much kinder, gentler version of what they actually said). Obviously in those instances, more emails were necessary (or “harassment” as you put it).

Finally Greg, you claim people were consulting attorneys and spending their time and money. First of all, Greg, that is there right. Personally, I would simply have put the space in between the My and Events – a much less costly endeavor. Assuming they really did chat with an attorney, obviously their attorney came back and said, "MyEvents is trademarked for Internet Calendaring, and you're offering an internet calendar called MyEvents - so yes, you're infringing." The fact that they contacted an attorney is not our fault – you make it sound like it is.

Thanks all for reading – again guys, we're just trying to salvage our brand that for the last 10 years, until the rise in Drupal popularity, was insulated from marketplace confusion. We're not a Goliath coming after a small Drupal population. If anything, we're the underdog now that Drupal has gained such momentum. If you can help by promoting the Drupal patch, you'd be helping to rectify the harm caused from the actions carried out on this message board.

RE: the websites in your example

Greg -

Sorry to keep trying to defend MyEvents, but of the sites you point to that you claim to be using MyEvents, only the University of Toronto has actually used it. Google uses "Google Events", Microsoft uses "Microsoft Events", Oracle uses "My Events" (the space which we advocate), and MySQL, while having MyEvents in the URL, uses MySQL Events.

I would be willing to bet it is because the US companies value US Trademarks.

Just sayin...

FWIW, I did apologize before

FWIW, I did apologize before seeing this page...

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