The Law Society of the Northern Provinces has issued a ruling on attorneys’ acceptable (and unacceptable) uses of keywords in their SEO or other Internet marketing campaigns. The ruling, which was communicated as a notice to its members on 9 April 2013, is embedded below.
This ruling applies pseudo-trademark principles to keyword use in advertising models which could include ads in search results and on attorneys’ websites which are intended to direct traffic through misdirection. A typical example is Joe Public Attorneys uses “Acme Attorneys” it its advertising campaign, hoping that people searching for Acme, Joe’s competitor, would also see Joe’s website in their search results. This sort of practice has come up in numerous industries in the past and has been met with legal action aimed at protecting trademarks and preventing forms of unlawful competition between competitors.
p>Various law societies in South Africa are tackling a variety of challenging issues which emerge as attorneys embrace the social Web including a recent social media policy published for comment by attorneys. The legal profession tends to be somewhat more conservative when it comes to adopting new technologies and this ruling is likely to be the followed by more as the various regional and national law societies tackle these emerging challenges.