Linking Standard to Change? (3:53)

Posted on by Abby Johnson |

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The case involving Jones Day and BlockShopper threatens the practice of linking on the Web. Attorneys Sarah Bird and Clarke Walton were both surprised by the accusations Jones Day brought against Blockshopper since legitimate links are typically favored online. In this video, the two legal scholars share their opinions on both parties involved.

For those who may not know, BlockShopper is a website that provides home purchasing information for certain geographical locations, and Jones Day is a large law firm. In the lawsuit, Jones Day alleged that Blockshopper infringed upon its trademark by using the name “Jones Day” as the anchor text in the links to the law firm’s website. Two associates from Jones Day purchased homes in the Chicago area and BlockShopper reported the information and linked to their lawyer bios on the Jones Day website.

BlockShopper asked the court to dismiss the case, but the judge refused. Since this video was shot, the companies ended up settling and BlockShopper was forced to change its linking policies. Many bloggers, lawyers and those involved in the Internet industry believe that BlockShopper followed the standard Web linking procedure that all other websites follow.

Clarke says he does not believe Jones Day should have sued on the grounds of a trademark violation. He could believe a copyright or trademark infringement over the use of an image, but not over a hyperlink.

Sarah says that while BlockShopper may raise some privacy concerns in an ethical sense, the real estate site does not violate any laws. She questions the law firm’s understanding of the Internet and Web commerce since links are a positive practice.

In a post regarding the settlement, Attorney Paul Alan Levy of the Public Citizen Litigation Group encourages Internet communities to retaliate against Jones Day by “repeatedly deep-linking from its name, and to its web site, in precisely the ways to which it objects, but which cannot prevent through litigation.” He says the firm’s bullying should not continue.

Posted in: Clarke Walton, Legal, Linking Strategies, News and Events, Sarah Bird, SMX West 2009
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