SW Legal studies in Business

Use of Metatags Was Infringement of Marks that Allowed Damages to Be Awarded

Appeals court held that the owner of trademarks used without permission in metatags on a retailer’s site to help draw customers could recover lost profits and attorneys fees as the use of the trademarks was willful trademark infringement in violation of the Lanham Act.

Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words

Metatags; Trademark; Infringement; Lanham Act

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

"Venture Tape" and "Venture Foil" are owned by the Venture company; their products are highly regarded by those making stained glass. Venture is a valuable, widely recognized name in that market. McGills is an internet-based retailer of stained-glass supplies. It sells products that compete with Venture. Beginning in 2000, McGills company embedded the Venture marks in metatags on the McGills website without permission. The metatags helped attract business, as search engines looking for Venture products would list the McGills' site as if McGills carried Venture products. A buyer would then find other brands of competitor products that McGills did sell. The metatags hid the marks from view, so Venture did not discover their use on McGills' site for three years. It then sued McGills for trademark infringement, Lanham Act violation, and other claims for sales it claimed to have lost by consumers being misled to look at the McGills' website as a supposed supplier of Venture products. The district court granted summary judgment in Venture's favor on all counts and awarded $230,339 in lost profits plus $188,583 in attorney fees. McGills appealed.


Affirmed. McGills infringed on Venture’s marks by embedding the marks in its website without permission. McGills lured customers to its website by using the metatags. This was a willful act that violated the Lanham Act which provides for damages in such instances.

Citation Venture Tape Corp. v. McGills Glass Warehouse, 540 F.3d 56 (1st Cir., 2008)

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