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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Marriott attempts to curtail trademark abuse through new policy

According to Travel Weekly (free registration required), Marriott International recently announced "sweeping new policies to curb what it sees as abuse of its trademarks. The move will alter the way online and offline travel sellers market the chain’s rooms."

The new “Standards & Guidelines for Online Marketing Using Marriott Trademarks,” effective November 1, stipulate that:

  • An online travel company may not use any Marriott trademark in the text or title of any paid search ad;
  • An online travel company may not bid on keyword terms containing Marriott trademarks, whether alone or in conjunction with other terms;
  • Web sites and Web pages must comply with Marriott’s Look No Further Best Rate Guarantee and are barred from using Marriott trademarks in tandem with such phrases as “substantial discounts,” “online exclusive rates,” “lowest prices,” “special rates” and “save 70%;”
  • An online travel company may not ‘screen scrape’ (i.e., programmatically evaluate and extract information from a Web page) any page(s) on Marriott.com.
  • An online travel company may not use any Marriott trademark in a Web address; and
  • Web sites may not use “keyword stuffing” -- repeatedly using Marriott keywords on their Web pages so those pages will show up higher in unpaid search results.
Under the guidelines, Marriott will provide notice to violators before pulling authorization to sell Marriott accommodations, withholding commissions and/or filing infringement lawsuits. The guidelines apply to the Marriott, JW Marriott, Renaissance, Courtyard, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn, TownePlace Suites, Springhill Suites, Marriott Vacation Club, Ritz-Carlton, ExecuStay and Marriott Executive Apartments brands.

Hat tip: Franchise Law Blog

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