Last week, the Seventh Circuit issued an opinion in the case Promatek Industries, Ltd., v. Equitrac Corporation, a lawsuit filed over Equitrac’s use of certain metatags in its web site.

Metatags are keywords that are inserted in the HTML code of a web page, that are provided to a search engine “spider” when it crawls the web. These keywords are then provided to the search engine’s index, making it easier for users to find the website when those keywords are used in a search. For example, my firm’s home page metatags include words such as “Dallas Texas law firm,” “insurance defense” “legal malpractice,” “medical malpractice,” and so on. Metatags are invisible to the viewer of the web page — only the search engines (and web designers) can see them. Interestingly, many search engines do not look at metatags any more, preferring instead to index the actual visible words on the page.

Back to our story. Equitrac and Promatek are direct competitors in selling cost-recovery equipment. For its website, Equitrac instructed its web designer to include the word “Copitrack” in the metatag contents. This was a misspelling of the word “Copitrak”, a product trademarked by Promatek. Promatek filed suit. In response, Equitrac removed the Copitrack metatag and any mention of the word from its website, and contacted all the search engines known to it and requested that the remove any links between Copitrack and Equitrac’s website.

Promatek wasn’t satisfied with Equitrac’s efforts, so it requested (and got) an injunction preventing the use of the term Copitrack on the Equitrac website.

Up to this point, I’m in total agreement with Promatek’s efforts, and the court’s rulings. Placing the Copitrack term on Equitrac’s website makes it likely to cause confusion between the two products, and that’s probably a trademark violation on Equitrac’s part.
What I don’t get is the next part of the injunction. Promatek next requested (and got) that Equitrac place the following language on its website:

“If you were directed to this site through the term “Copitrack,” that is in error as there is no affiliation between Equitrac and that term. The mark “Copitrack” is a registered trademark of Promatek Industries, Ltd., which can be found at or”

Huh? I’m no IP lawyer, but I always thought one of the purposes of trademark law was to equalize competition between companies. Doesn’t this disclaimer promote the Promatek product right on Equitrac’s home turf? There has to be a better way to deal with this.