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Linking, Framing, and Metatagging

Insituform Technologies, Inc v. National Envirotech Group, LLC, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Civil Action Number 97-2064.

Summary

In this action, the plaintiff, Insituform Technologies, Inc., filed suit over the defendant's use of the plaintiff's federally registered trademarks in its metatags and the posting of the plaintiff's marketing materials on the defendant's web site, without consent or attribution. Although the defendant denied any wrongdoing, shortly after its answer was filed the parties a consent judgment under which the metatags were removed and the marketing materials taken down.

In Depth Analysis

The plaintiff, Insituform Technologies, Inc., specializes in repairing damaged underground pipe and sewers without excavation and owns the federally registered trademarks INSITUFORM and INSITUPIPE. The plaintiff operates a web site, “www.insituform.com,” where it advertises its products and expertise. The defendant operates the National Liner web site, “www.curedinplace.com,” which also similarly advertises expertise in the repair of damaged pipe without excavation.

In its complaint, Insituform alleged that the defendant had embedded Insituform’s trademarks into its web site’s metatags so that search engines would return the defendant’s web site in response to a query using either of the plaintiff’s trademarks. The plaintiff further alleged that the defendant posted photographs, images and text from the plaintiff’s marketing materials on its web site. According to the plaintiff, the defendant’s use of the plaintiff’s marks and materials on its web site suggested a connection between the two entities which did not exist. In addition, although the defendant’s web site promoted the plaintiff’s products and services, the plaintiff was not mentioned in the text or anywhere else on the other than the invisible metatags.

On August 11, 1997, the defendant filed its answer denying that it had infringed on the plaintiff’s trademarks. A short time later, a consent judgment was entered in which the defendant agreed to delete all references to the plaintiff’s federally registered trademarks in its metatags. The judgment further barred the defendant from using the plaintiff’s marketing materials on its web site or embedding any of the plaintiff’s trademarks on its web site.


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