PODCAST: Can SEO be trademarked?

I have just read Jordan McCollums post titled SEO Trademarker Responds: Community Standards
, a follow on from an earlier post this week Are You About To Lose The Right To Call Your Work SEO, by the same author.

In a nut shell, Jason Gambert has made application to trademark the term SEO. Should he be successful, Jason will be solely responsible for how and where the term SEO is utilised.

The move has left many people wondering why. Well, Jordan reports today that Jason states:

I am helping the search engine marketing community establish an approved SEO process, which can be sold as an “SEO service.”

Jordans two articles are well worth the read to understand more of the rhetoric.

My comments?

Amazing! I always thought that a trademark is the protection of ones invention, not a means to ensure standards like SEO. A trademark means that no one can use that mark without the owners permission and the owner is entitled to charge a fee for its use.

Yes, to ensure the quality for their product the owner may dictate the way in which the mark may be used, and therefore protect the standards for the use of the mark. However, it’s not exactly protecting the way a process is conducted, like SEO. That’s protecting income and your own reputation. Ensuring quality in a process like SEO is something very different.

To ensure an industry recognition, surely, it is necessary to gain industry’s buy in. Jordan McCollum appears to agree with this.

If one person thinks they can trademark a process like SEO, then what are organisations like the International Standards Organisation for? Maybe one person can dictate how an entire industry, that already exists and thrives, can behave. Then again, maybe not.

However, extrapolating this move out. Let’s consider the following.

We all know and agree (I think) that the process that is used to optimise a site for search engines, which is after all what SEO is, is really dictated by Googles (and other search engine providers) algorithm. It is universally recognised that Google does not publish it’s algorithm and that the algorithm is changed periodically as Google refines it to better serve its customers requirements. O.K, so the refinement is also meant to stop the Black Hat methods that pop as well.

I believe that the SEO techniques that exist today, differ greatly to those that existed 12 months ago. The techniques today will probably differ somewhat in another 6 months.

So what do we have? We have a guy, who wants to enforce standards on the way the task of SEO is conducted. This guy can’t define the algorithm that is used to rank sites in searches. Ummmmm, need I say more? Let’s assume that Mr Gambert manages to define a standard today and certifies certain people or organisations to use his trademark. What happens tomorrow, when the search engine algorithm changes and those that are certified to use the term SEO change their practices? Are they not in breach of the use of the trademark? Therefore, practicing SEO will become a dead talent.

This guys move is a joke. Regardless of his stated altruism to standardise the practice of SEO, how long before he charges for the use of the TradeMark?

So, we will no longer practice SEO. I’ll be optimising websites, and be a Website Optimisation Wizard (WOW!)

I wish Mr Gambert well with application. I won’t be applying for the use of the trademark if its approved. Oh hold on! I’m in Australia and he hasn’t applied in Australia, for use in Australia his Trademark won’t apply.

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8 Responses to “PODCAST: Can SEO be trademarked?”

  1. I think the obvious next move for you would be to trademark SEO for Australia. You know, for our own sake. ;)

    Jordan McCollum’s last blog post..SEO Trademarker Responds: Community Standards

  2. I think you should trademark WOW, sounds better than SEO anyway.

  3. This guy is a joke. His intentions are good I think but all the dishonest people/frauds etc will just change terms and work around him etc. And I have no idea where this joker is from but if you are in Australia and he’s in say the US what’s to stop people from other countries still continue with the dishonesty/fraud etc. Or does he have a whole line of buddies in every country that will trademark the term in all those other countries?

    Sometimes it just amazes me what some people are thinking. I just don’t see how this guy can succeed. And then I am wondering if this guy has even been around as long as the term SEO has?


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