On the heels of a case first brought to light by MortgageBrokerNews.ca, CAAMP is now reiterating the rules governing how members use a competitor’s name to drive traffic to their websites.
“While every case may vary, the use of dynamic keyword insertion as described above has been found to be a violation of the following CAAMP Code of Ethics Rules,” writes the association in this month’s issue of the Mortgage Journal.
The warning, of sorts, comes as CAAMP finds itself currently negotiating a settlement agreement with one member whose Internet advertising was found to have violated those rules. It also continues to investigate another case.
As MortgageBrokerNews.ca reported earlier this year, one dispute arises from a complaint filed by B.C. broker Mike Averbach, concerned that another broker had encoded his name on a blog webpage entirely unrelated to Averbach or his firm. The result was a Google search for Averbach’s name would also result in that competitor’s site appearing in the search results.
The ensuing investigation by CAAMP found the competitor in violation of the association’s code of ethics.
CAAMP is now outlining two scenarios in which the use of a competitor’s name or brokerage name as search terms in a dynamic keyword insertion in Google and other search engines may raise questions.
There is possible trademark infringement and violation of tort law if a consumer searches, for example, member John Doe or Brokerage XYZ Mortgages and the dynamic search results “show John Doe or XYZ Mortgages in bold on the first line of the search result, but with a link that takes the consumer to a different member’s website…”
That could “constitute a trademark infringement or a violation of the common law tort of ‘passing off’ and could lead to a CAAMP ethics complaint or worse a lawsuit,” CAAMP warned. “Members should take care not to infringe trademarks or be guilty of ‘passing off’ when advertising,” CAAMP warned.
CAAMP found its following ethical rules were violate in one of the cases brought before it for adjudication:
Rule 1 – Member did not conduct their activities with honesty, integrity and professionalism
Rule 8 – Member did not maintain standards of honesty, truth, accuracy, fairness and propriety in advertising
Rule 10 – Member did not conduct their activities in full compliance with federal, provincial and municipal laws