Until that time, please blog amongst yourselves.
The new Google toolbar adds links to content through a function named Auto-Link. For example, it is my understanding that if an address appears on a webpage, a program in Google’s toolbar can create a link from that address to, perhaps, Google’s map service. This has stirred some controversy, as it gives Google the ability to steer traffic off the page to one of its services or advertisers.
Does the third-party addition of links to content create an unauthorized derivative work or is it within the implied license created by making the content available? Is it accurate to state that auto-link makes the html code work differently, in a way the original coder did not anticipate? Or is this similar to, for example, copying text from a webpage – using browser functionality to act upon the html code?
Does the third-party addition of links to content constitute a false statement of endorsement of the ‘linkee’ by the ‘linker’? Would the user understand which links have been created by the source of the content and which have been created by Google (and is that distinction important)?
Does the addition of links create unfair competition issues, under ‘sweat of the brow’ or ‘unjust enrichment’ theories? In what way is auto-link different from a situation where, for example, the user cuts and paste text from the webpage into an auto-link window in the toolbar itself?
I tried out auto-link – the user has to voluntarily click an auto-link button – does this mitigate all confusion?
Some websites will appreciate the value-add, some won’t. If the website can opt in or out of auto-link, does the problem go away?
Historical aside: Many commentators note the resemblance of the Google feature to Microsoft’s Smart Tags function of several years ago.
Via the Lovells February Intellectual Property newsletter (online copy perhaps will be posted here), discussion of ‘must match’ concept in UK design law in Dyson v. Qualtex (concerning ability of manufacturer to design spare parts whose shape or configuration are dependent upon the appearance or configuration of another part).
IPKat discusses Nestle’s decison in UK to change shape of SMARTIES packaging.
Podcasters may seek inspiration from this archive of radio ads maintained by Duke University.
With the cavaet that I have not handled domain name disputes under Nominet’s procedure, nor have I read the underlying submissions, I will say that I am ‘surprised’ by this Nominet decision awarding game.co.uk to Game Group, owners of a GAME chain of stores selling, hmm, games.
It’s interesting that someone could establish rights in GAME for games.
The second interesting question is when the relevant time of inquiry should be, given that the Nominet policy is targeted at ‘abusive registration.’ Here, registrant has owned the name since 1995. Assuming that complainant’s allegations are correct, which is that registrant, after a period of several years of either warehousing the name or using it in connection with his game industry consulting business, then changed the usage of the site fairly recently to compete with complainant’s now-booming business, that would seem to make for a colorable passing-off action, and would not seem to speak to registrant’s actions in 1995, when he registered the name.
The decision is on appeal.
Commentary from The Register here.