It’s been widely known for years that Google does not use the metatag keyword tag in ranking its search results. Indeed, this simple fact is part of what made Google more reliable than other search engines, since many website owners used fake metatags to “optimize” their results in search engines. While this was quite obvious for many years, Google had never publicly admitted it (it doesn’t like to talk about its algorithm) until just a few months ago. Still, the company was just confirming exactly what was widely known for the better part of a decade or so.
And yet, for years, people would bring trademark infringement lawsuits, insisting that metatags represent some sort of trademark violation. In one recent case, that we’ve discussed, the CEO of software company Jenzabar, Ling Chai, has sued the makers of a documentary about the Tiananmen Square uprising. Chai had been involved in the uprising and doesn’t like how the filmmakers portrayed her role. The filmmakers, on their website, mention that Chai works for Jenzabar, and included the word “Jenzabar” in the metatags, which Jenzabar insists violates its trademarks.
The documentary makers brought on Public Citizen lawyer Paul Alan Levy, who noted in a blog post the simple fact that even Google says it does not rely on metatags, and in response, Jenzabar tried to block his being brought into the case, by saying that Levy’s pointing to the Google blog post was hearsay.
Now, the company has gone even further. It’s found an “expert witness” who will claim that metatags do, in fact, influence Google results, even as the company itself insists they don’t. The guy in question, Frank Farance, claims in his affidavit that “metatags are used by every Web search engine to determine search results and rankings.” It’s not clear how he has expertise in this particular realm or how he knows that Google uses metatags when pretty much everyone in the space has known for years it does not and Google itself has publicly denied using metatags to rank results.