While I appreciate the work that Ken Magill put into his article concerning the selling of trademark names by search engines (“Trademark Debate Rages Over Use of Firms' Names as Keywords,” Nov. 16), I did want to clarify a few points.
As a consumer electronics cataloger, Crutchfield Corp. has been in the business for 24 years. We have always adhered to high standards in doing business, both with our customers and our vendors. As a member of the DMA and AIM, we also maintain the high ethical standards on which these organizations insist.
When I became aware of Excite's practice of selling the keyword “Crutchfield,” I was surprised it would even do such a thing. When we contacted the company with our concerns, we were given a stock answer that really didn't address the situation to our satisfaction. Not only are we disappointed that Excite thinks it's within its rights to sell our registered trademark, it's willing to sell that trademarked name to a major competitor. In my opinion, this is unethical and detrimental to our industry. Where is the high standard of fair play? Crutchfield is prepared to compete with any consumer electronics company; however, we prefer to do so fairly and not at the expense of the consumer. The Internet is a new technology and one rife with opportunists. As direct marketers, shouldn't we continue to “take the high road” and win the Internet consumer's trust and appreciation? Is it fair to confuse these consumers by displaying banners of competing companies when they type in another company's keyword?
And while Crutchfield does not seek out opportunities to file lawsuits, we do not intend to “sit back and do nothing” as Magill's article may have implied. Our next step will be to involve our industry organizations that have been created to help add structure and policy to the Internet (the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the Association of Interactive Media, now a division of the DMA and the Interactive Direct Marketing Bureau). We hope their efforts will help us resolve this issue and get on with our real business of ethical e-commerce.
I would encourage you to take a look at your company's keyword and find out if it, too, is being sold without the consent or approval of the holder of that trademark, possibly to your competitor. Do you think this is a fair practice?