PracticePeople In PracticeSearch engine cheats risk jail

Search engine cheats risk jail

One in four companies risks prosecution and even jail for using a common web technique called metatag bending.

Metatags are keywords embedded in the code of websites, that are used by some search engines when ranking the results of search criteria.

Metatag bending is when, for example, company ‘A’ steals traffic from competitor ‘B’ by including B’s name and trademarks in the metatags of its website. When a customer types in B’s name in a search engine the results throw up A’s site and can divert traffic away.

Metatag bending cost UK management data systems firm Mandata £15,000 in damages plus £80,000 in costs after being found guilty of trademark infringement in May this year.

Jonathan Armstrong, internet ecommerce expert at law firm Eversheds, said: ‘Most people we see had no idea it was happening because they outsourced website design.’

‘The message is clear – watch what you put in your metatags and watch what your competitors put in theirs,’ added Armstrong, who carries out risk assessment audits of ebusinesses to gauge their liability to internet fraud.

The consequences for businesses found guilty of trademark infringement are at least large fines. In extreme cases, although this is unlikely according to Armstrong, it can be a criminal offence with a custodial sentence.

Related Articles

Is inefficiency stealing your time and money?

Accounting Firms Is inefficiency stealing your time and money?

6m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
CIMA elects new president

Institutes CIMA elects new president

6m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Transparent currency trade: How to achieve costs visibility

Governance Transparent currency trade: How to achieve costs visibility

6m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Introduction to KPMG UK’s new leadership team

Accounting Firms Introduction to KPMG UK’s new leadership team

6m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
EY appoints head of UK Infrastructure Asset Intelligence practice

Accounting Firms EY appoints head of UK Infrastructure Asset Intelligence practice

8m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
FRP Advisory expands operation with new office, partner appointments

Accounting Firms FRP Advisory expands operation with new office, partner appointments

10m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Magma Group announces merger, partner promotions

Accounting Firms Magma Group announces merger, partner promotions

10m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
MHA MacIntyre Hudson advises on management buy-out

Accounting Firms MHA MacIntyre Hudson advises on management buy-out

10m Emma Smith, Managing Editor