The Florida Bar and Competitive Keyword Advertising: A Tragicomedy (in 3 Parts)

In the late 2000s, keyword advertising was one of Internet Law’s hottest topics. Now, not so much. Relatively few lawsuits are filed; they rarely last long in court; and most trademark owners have moved on. But in the Florida Bar, the keyword advertising debate rages on like it’s 2009. If all this sounds familiar, you have a good memory. In 2013, the Florida Bar considered a proposal to ban competitive keyword advertising by lawyers. In a surprising upset, the Board of Governors narrowly rejected its standing committee’s recommended ban. Instead, the BOG said it “is of the opinion that the purchase of ad words is permissible as long as the resulting sponsored links clearly are advertising.” As I wrote at the time: A sensible assessment of a meritless proposal. Let’s hear it for small victories that preserve the status quo! You might think this would have definitively resolved the issue. Certainly, intervening developments have reinforced the…

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