Jenzabar Finds 'Expert Witness' Who Will Claim Google Relies On Metatags, Despite Google Saying It Does Not

from the good-luck-there dept

It's been widely known for years that Google does not use metatag description comments in ranking its search results. Indeed, this simple fact is part of what made Google more reliable than other search engines, since many website owners used fake metatags to "optimize" their results in search engines. While this was quite obvious for many years, Google had never publicly admitted it (it doesn't like to talk about its algorithm) until just a few months ago. Still, the company was just confirming exactly what was widely known for the better part of a decade or so.

And yet, for years, people would bring trademark infringement lawsuits, insisting that metatags represent some sort of trademark violation. In one recent case, that we've discussed, the CEO of software company Jenzabar, Ling Chai, has sued the makers of a documentary about the Tiananmen Square uprising. Chai had been involved in the uprising and doesn't like how the filmmakers portrayed her role. The filmmakers, on their website, mention that Chai works for Jenzabar, and included the word "Jenzabar" in the metatags, which Jenzabar insists violates its trademarks.

The documentary makers brought on Public Citizen lawyer Paul Alan Levy, who noted in a blog post the simple fact that even Google says it does not rely on metatags, and in response, Jenzabar tried to block his being brought into the case, by saying that Levy's pointing to the Google blog post was hearsay.

Now, the company has gone even further. It's found an "expert witness" who will claim that metatags do, in fact, influence Google results, even as the company itself insists they don't. The guy in question, Frank Farance, claims in his affidavit that "metatags are used by every Web search engine to determine search results and rankings." It's not clear how he has expertise in this particular realm or how he knows that Google uses metatags when pretty much everyone in the space has known for years it does not and Google itself has publicly denied using metatags to rank results.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: expert witness, frank farance, ling chai, metatags
Companies: google, jenzabar


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), 18 Nov 2009 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Reading a bit on Wikipedia to confirm that my admittedly rudimentary understanding is correct, and I'm sorry friend, but there IS a big difference between trade secrets and more traditional IP like patents.

    Firstly, the reverse engineering of a trade secret by another party is totally legal - if someone works out the Coca Cola formula, they can start making it (except for all that other stuff to do with importing coca leaves but that is unrelated to this discussion)

    Secondly, "under most trade secret regimes, a trade secret is not deemed to exist unless its purported holder takes reasonable steps to maintain its secrecy." [wikipedia]

    Trade secret laws are about preventing industrial espionage and allowing for the enforcement of NDAs and NCAs. You are basically saying "we are keeping this a secret". With a patent, you are saying "this isn't a secret, but you still aren't allowed to use it"

Add Your Comment

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



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.