Using Competitor's Name As Keyword

Discussion in 'iOS Programming' started by loon3y, Jan 21, 2016.

  1. loon3y, Jan 21, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016

    loon3y macrumors 65816


    Oct 21, 2011

    I recently got a copy infringement email from one of our customer's competitors. They asked me to put their company name in their keyword to get more relevant searches.

    They told me that they contacted apple and their law firm, But i read as long as it doesn't confuse the user it should be ok.

    No where does it say its 'X' company, they know its our customers company because of the brand name and icon but they both sell the similar product.

    they want us to take out their company name out of our keywords.

    Is this something i need to take out?


    When we search for their company, our app comes out 1st and their app comes in 2nd.
  2. Mascots, Jan 21, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016

    Mascots macrumors 68000


    Sep 5, 2009
    This generally is frowned upon by Apple but you probably shouldn't be doing it anyway as you are explicitly using their brand for your own exposure. Essentially, you're diluting their trademark, which is infringement, and they have the ability to take legal action to try to prevent against something like a photoshop-ening of their brand. For comparison, this is different than quoting a review from a customer where they happen use your competitor's name, which is then picked up by the search algorithm.

    Another reason it isn't really welcomed (from Apple's side) is to prevent confusion among users who you have to assume are drop-dead dumb because the audience is so expansive or the number of apps in that particular search is overwhelming. And the search engine sucks.

    I would suggest finding the keywords that your client's competitor uses and using those instead.
  3. PhoneyDeveloper macrumors 68040


    Sep 2, 2008
    I would assume this is an issue for the owner of the account, and their lawyer. Is that you or your customer? The keywords are not public so they can't know for certain unless Apple helps them (I think). Do you know that Apple verified to them that you're using the competitor's company name as a keyword?

    Remember, of course, that two can play at this game. You probably don't want to go to court over this. It sounds like a very minor thing for you to remove the competitor's company name.
  4. Mascots macrumors 68000


    Sep 5, 2009
    Keywords may not be publically listed in the App Store results, but they're fairly easy to look up and there's quite a few services to do it acurately - they tie into search results and other services so there isn't verification needed from Apple to confirm misuse.
  5. AxoNeuron, Jan 22, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2016

    AxoNeuron macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2012
    The Left Coast
    I want to make it clear that I am not an attorney and everything I've written is just my personal opinion. Your client should reallllly be getting the advice of an experienced copyright attorney. But here is my opinion.

    I personally think that as long as the actual name of the app isn't intentionally misleading (ie. Calling an app 'Angry Byrds') then using their name just as a search tag is just fine. For example, Kleenex in the US is used to mean tissue paper, not just the particular brand. It has become synonymous with the actual product. Thus, in a court room, this would be the foundation of the legal argument. When people want a photo editor, they don't search for 'photo editor', they search for photoshop. So I don't see why a competing software product couldn't use photoshop as just a search term. If they weren't allowed to do so, they would be at a competitive disadvantage since it would be hard for new users to discover their product.

    So if your app name is 'Image Editor Plus' and you use 'Photoshop' as a search term, no one is going to be confused and think they're downloading photoshop, since you didn't use photoshop as your app's name, you just used it as a search term. I don't see any problems with that.

    Since the app isn't trying to confuse people into thinking they're buying something else, then I think it's totally OK. But that's just my opinion. The company should really contact a copyright attorney.

    Problems like this, and more, are why I would never launch an app in a sector that already has existing competition. Why put yourself at a disadvantage from day 1?
  6. Mascots macrumors 68000


    Sep 5, 2009
    Potentially, but just because your brand is popular and highly recognizable with a product category doesn't mean you loose your ability to protect it in the US - Adobe and KC still have the ability to go after those attempting to profit from their work because they have been actively upholding their trademark - it's not about confusion to the buyer (legally), it's about protecting the brand and that's how the laws are geared.

    What would make me worry in this case, since it isn't a kleenex or photoshop, is that you are explicitly using the brand in order to capture their exposure and ranking above them in the store. In the all-in-all, it is up to brand holder to actually go after those stepping on their trademark or attempting to otherwise dilute or erode it in order to keep it protected. That puts you in the target for at least a questionable case (as seen here in the least).

    I imagine the inverse, too. Adobe putting in your app's name as a keyword on their products, which will inevitably rank higher and are more numerous, pushing you off the page (OPs app manages to rank above competitors app in search, remember). The protection of your trademark plus the proper regulation of the App Store would suggest that you should be getting the maximum exposure from the brand you own, not Adobe, and you have the ability to take action (legally and through Apple).

    Overall, I think it's case-by-case, especially given the drastic size differences between companies and their tactics. But in this case, I think OPs client is walking on egg shells for something so silly. I agree that it is imperative to contact a professional consultant, but until then, just remove it.
  7. PhoneyDeveloper macrumors 68040


    Sep 2, 2008
    This is in part Apple's fault.

    They could have a rule like 'Keywords may not be used that are Copyrighted or Trademarks unless the user is the Copyright or Trademark holder.'

    Also, it seems ridiculous that if I put 'Photoshop' in as a keyword for my app that my app would come up before the real Adobe Photoshop in the search results. This is a failure in Apple's search algorithm.
  8. grandM macrumors 65816


    Oct 14, 2013
    Exposure... First of all you ought to protect yourself. Warn your client in a legally binding document (what's binding depends from country to country) you strongly advise them to get in contact with a copy right attorney. Also notify your client you urge them to delete the competitor's name till further notice. As far your client is concerned it might be interesting to dance the rope. One could profit from this exposure to develop a brand name on the short term. On the long term the attorney might know if it is allowed or not. Court rulings often seem a throw of the dice though. One thing is for sure. Once attorneys get involved your client will need a lot of money and get headaches for free.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 23, 2016 ---
    I would not go suing apple ;)
  9. loon3y thread starter macrumors 65816


    Oct 21, 2011

    actually they came up with their app 4 years after ours, they probably spend well more then 80 grand on it.

    I'm sure thats why. I see what you're saying but this is for our customers to handle with their lawyers. We do not have the time nor resources to handle a lawsuit, because we've been swamped for the past years.

    I read many, many, articles regarding this and typically most agreed with what you said (the whole kleenex and photoshop thing). But i don know for sure so I'm taking it down for now because we don't need any more trouble and just let the clients know and have them take care of it if they wish to do so.

    The problem is is that our App comes ranked 1st even when you search their name so for example, When searching for Photoshop, Image Editor comes out as the 1st result.

    I think it maybe due to the seniority of our app and the amount of downloads because this other 'competitor' just released it last week.

    but in the keywords list, their name was about 7th or 8th down the keyword list. Thanks so much for your advice and well as everyone else
  10. Mascots macrumors 68000


    Sep 5, 2009
    Good luck!

    If you hear back with anything concrete, please do let us know as I'm pretty curious to the outcome.

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