Utah Tries To Ban Keyword Advertising On Trademarked Terms

from the bad-ideas dept

For many years, companies have tried suing either Google or various competitors over keyword advertising on their trademarks. Say Coca-Cola decided to buy an ad based on the word “Pepsi.” There shouldn’t be anything wrong with that. The ads are clearly advertisements, and there’s nothing illegal with advertising your product in places where people are looking for info about competitors. Lately, it appears that judges have figured out how to rule properly in these cases — recognizing that trademarks don’t give the holder full control over the trademarked term, but are merely to prevent consumer confusion (i.e., Coca-Cola pretending to be Pepsi). However, it appears that the loser in one of these cases has convinced the Utah legislature that this is a big problem — and now there’s actually a law in Utah that bans the buying of trademarked terms in keyword advertising. Even Utah’s own General Counsel warned the legislature that the law was unconstitutional, but they went ahead and approved it anyway. As the EFF notes, it’s likely the law will be challenged and thrown out, but it will cost Utah taxpayer money to defend it in court.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Utah Tries To Ban Keyword Advertising On Trademarked Terms”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Why?

“Why does the goverment always thing it knows best? And yet it doesn’t understand that for most things you don’t need a law!”

Uh, you’re missing the point. The government knows full well that we don’t need laws for most things. The problem is that the government wants to rule over our entire lives, and will apparently rise to just about any level of stupidity to do so. This country was founded with the idea that the people run the government, but that idea is quickly pulling a 180 as we head towards a more socialistic society in which the government brainwashes us into relying on it for everything, and thinking that we’re better off for it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Out product works with [CENSORED] systems.

So then what happens when someone sells after market parts for someone else’s products.

Say you want to buy a universal remote control for your TV/VCR/Sat/Cable system… Are the manufactures in Utah no longer to print advertise these products are for RCA, Sony, Panasonic, Pioneer televisions…etc, using those names as keywords in their advertisements ???

Monkey says:

Stupid stupid stupid...

Seems all there is in the news lately (at least online) is copyright, trademark or plagiarism winers. It’s starting to really give me a bad taste in my mouth. One day maybe they will do away with all the lobbyist and just make decisions on what’s right and wrong, or at the very least what’s freaken logical. Too bad many politicians see themselves as almost godly and never step out of their perspective when making any kinds of decisions. I’m really sick of all the BS..

Casper says:

I'm confused...

These rules are almost never an issue with TV advertising. I hear Hyundai advertising how their car is better then the Toyota and more roomy then the BMW, both of which are trade marked names, but they never have problems with their TV ads. These laws are just getting ridicules. Does that mean Hyundai can’t use their advertising campaign in Utah?

Anonymous Coward says:


If the law passes I will blow my brains out… They would have to be on drugs to say that this is legitimate. There are 1000’s of media outlets that use other “trademark” names in their ads. It would be like saying “you can’t talk about pepsi any more because it’s trademarked”. If someone mentions your companies name then its word of mouth.. it can only help!

SomePerson says:

Re: Re:

Is Utah filled (with) mormons or morons?

Those two words mean the same thing. So, take your pick.

Mormon = moron and vice versa. Not surprising to me that the state of UTAH is yet again pulling something like this. They don’t seem to think they fall within the rules of the US constitution. I still say they should break away from the 50 states and form their own mormonic (or moronic) country.

I’m so sick of hearing about all this crazy $hit the Mormons are in UTAH are doing. Enough. We are not all perfect and holier than thou like you morons are…please check your religion at the door and don’t force it upon the rest of our country.

Whatever says:

Re: Mormans rule!

Yeah so they protected an icon of their faith. That seems like a pretty clear cut case to me. Registered Trademark belongs to organization then it belongs to them. If I start putting it on T-Shirts and selling it then I am making money of off someone elses property seems pretty fair to me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Mormans rule!

A trademark is not about ownership. It is about brand. A trademark is used to insure the consumer (us little people) are not tricked into buying goods not made by the trademark holder. This does not mean they own the trademark and that no one else can use it in any context. It just means that noone else can use it in a way that promotes their goods as though they are made by the trademark holder. If I’m wrong shoot me.

jon says:

This isn't about mormons

C’mon, you mention utah and all the sudden it’s the gates of hell opening up…

The mormon church is very protective of their trademarks, and this goes beyond saying something like ‘baptists have something mormons do not” that coffee swilling moroni was a trademark infringement and in very poor taste, considering what the statue stands for.

Now on to Mit Romney, not all utahns or even mormon utahns are going to vote for Mit – but the fact that most will just for the heer fact he’s mormon makes me cry…no seriously..it does..

Maybe this will get companies to leave utah in droves, or set up offices in other cities, or being in more cases (maybe more money for someone) in getting passed this, but it’s beyond even the coffee add, seeing as how that wasn’t on the web it was a tee shirt.

But I do remember years ago, that you couldn’t say competitors names on TV or Radio, whether or not it was a law or not i don’t remember, it may very well have been a mutual respect (I remember it mostly between McDonalds and BurgerKing).

But I want you to remember, there are non-mormon senators and mayors and other officials here, not just mormon ones…

JChan (user link) says:

We're not all crazy

Please don’t think that all Utahns or all Mormons are crazy just because a few overreacted to a situation. While I am not personally offended by the coffee-drinking Moroni, I can see why some are. However, this law is obviously misguided at best. As a Utah Mormon, I hope everyone realizes that not all of us agree with this sort of thing.

Thinkerati says:

Re: If only if only

“If only Missouri had finished the job. I personally think the order that Mormons complain as a curse would have rid us of 99% of the problems in the US. Without Mormons there would be no Mitt, no republicans, no Iraq war, and no Utah. They represent everything that is un American.”

Not only is this whole statement riddled with poor logic, it has no bearing on the original post. The original post is about a bad trademark law, not any religion. A post about foolish state legislators in the State of Utah is not the same thing as a discussion about Mormons. If this had happened in another state (which it easily could have, lobbyists are everywhere), nobody would have started bashing the predominant religion in that state–because that would have been stupid and irrelevant.

And, The Truth, do you really think a church that only constitutes around 2% of the population in the United States is responsible for “99% of the problems in the US”? Frankly, with comments like that (and your mentally unstable statement implying that you wish that all Mormons had been “exterminated” by the State of Missouri in the 1800s) I’m surprised you were even capable of reading the original post about trademarks…

jon says:

wow we got way off the subject


the iraq war happened because of the mormons? wow, i don’t think i ever saw that coming…

you ought to read up on who’s ancestors decided to come to this country because of religious persecution. but i digress…it only happens when the lds church is brought up…

but as the article stated, they don’t really think this will make it that far. does anyone know if these tee’s were sold on tv or the radio? i’m having a hard time putting the tees together with this law. i tried to guess that it’s what initiated this law, but i just don’t know if it did – anyone else (from utah) have any idea what brought this about?

Dissillusioned in Utah says:

Par For The Course

This isn’t the first time Utah’s wasted money passing a law that was clearly unconsitutional, and it’s not the only one they have considered this year. Some examples:

HB148 (aka the “abandon a sinking ship incentive program”) would allow parents to spend public money on private school tuition. This despite (or because of) the fact that Utah is dead last in public school funding in the nation.

HB104 Would make all “gambling-like activities” illegal in bars and pubs, even if no actual gambling takes place. Church fund raisers however, would be exempt. This bill sends a clear message, if you want to play cards or bingo in Utah, get ye to the house of god.

HB236 Is aimed at eliminating gay-straight alliance clubs in high schools. It would reject clubs deemed to violate the “moral well-being” of students or that “involve human sexuality”.

HB202 The “Ritalin bill” would make it illegal for teachers to require a student to take “psychotropic” drugs, or remove a child from parental custody for failure to take said drugs. As far as anyone knows, this has never happened, and is already forbidden by school district rules. But that is not enough to satisfy sponsors of the bill that their children will not tied to a desk and forced to drop R, then stolen by the courts to be raised by their god-hating, drug-taking, gay-loving, gambling-addicted, videogame-playing educators.

In 2005, they tried to pass an internet content law that was clearly unconstitutional.

About every other year, they try to pass another abortion bill that they will have to defend all the way to the Supreme Court.

Trust me, the idiocy of the Utah State Legislature knows NO bounds!

The Utah Senate Site (www.senatesite.com) (user link) says:

Easy Hoss - there IS another side to the story . .

People who own a trademark or hope to own one will love this new law. People who want to carjack someone else’s trademark investment will hate it.

Utah is a tech-savvy, business-friendly state. We have a balanced budget and are consistently recognized as being the best financially managed state in the nation. We use more computers per capita than anywhere else in the nation. It’s a nice place to live and a great place to do business.

This trademark law will make it even more so.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...