Judge Orders Trademark Infringer To Use ‘Negative Keywords’

Original judgment and injunction against \'Orion Residential Finance\'Here’s an interesting ruling in a financial trademark dispute involving Orion Bancorp (the victor) and Orion Residential Finance. The judge ordered the guilty infringer to purchase “negative keywords” through Google and other online ad systems.

A negative keyword tells search engines that the advertiser’s ad should never be shown when a certain term is searched for.

The judge also ordered the guilty Orion to pay to display Orion Bancorp’s ads when people search for “Orion Residential Finance” at various search engines.

Can you imagine having to pay to show your competitor’s ad every time someone did a Google search for your name?

Orion Bancorp received Federal trademark protection when it registered its name in 2003. Orion Residential Finance first created its site in 2007.

You can read the full story here, and the complete judgment can be viewed here (PDF).

Key Takeaways:

  • It’s next to impossible to find a name that “sounds financial” that won’t expose you to a potential lawsuit. Most of the names people naturally think of are already being used somewhere by someone.
  • All the obvious financial names are almost surely registered trademarks. Going with one of those is seriously risky business.

Bottom Line: A little due diligence and a quick search at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office would have saved Orion Residential Finance a lot of pain and a truckload of money.

From here forward, if they were to stay in business (doubtful), they would have to change-out everything with their logo on it. Not cheap.

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