An excellent example of what not to do involves a group of lawyers representing a development group who charged their customer $25,000 to make sure they were not on the first page of Google. Yes, you read correctly that the lawyers helped their real estate customers make sure they were not listed on the first page of a search engine in the middle of a terrible real estate market and only made $25,000 for doing it. The Hallbrook subdivision is an upscale neighborhood in Leawood Kansas minutes South of Kansas City. Homes for sale and real estate in Hallbrook are listed by several real estate companies with ads listing the spectacular Hallbrook Real Estate or Hallbrook Estate Homes for sale.
A local real estate company wanted to promote the homes and real estate they had for sale in the Hallbrook subdivision through a website to reach prospective buyers searching online. A small Search Engine Optimized marketing website was built incorporating the words Hallbrook Real Estate in the domain name (website address) listing homes for sale in Hallbrook and local area attractions. The website also featured on the home page links to the Hallbrook Country Club, Hallbrook Realty Team and other real estate companies with listings for sale in the Hallbrook subdivision. Within weeks the website was ranked # 1 on Google attracting the attention of someone at the Hallbrook Office Center or Hallbrook Country Club.
Someone somewhere was upset that the word Hallbrook was being used to sell real estate for sale in the Hallbrook subdivision. The first contact was a letter from a lawyer demanding that the # 1 ranked website be taken down because Hallbrook was a word used in the company trademark. The website was taken down for a short time to be sure nothing wrong was being perpetuated through use of the word Hallbrook to list real estate for sale in the Hallbrook subdivision. A quick search on Google showed 41,115 notations of the term Hallbrook Real Estate including dozens of similar websites that were not ranked on the 1st page of Google. A call was made to the lawyers representing Hallbrook Office Center sharing that the # 1 ranked website also linked to their client’s website sending prospective buyers while clearly noting the website was not affiliated with any of the Hallbrook entities.
Months went by without further communications until a huge packet of legal paperwork was delivered to the website hosting company (Builder Consulting) from Lathrop & Gage lawyers. A lawsuit had been filed claiming use of the word Hallbrook was a violation of the trademark held by Hallbrook Country Club and Hallbrook Office Center. Lawyers from Lathrop and Gage shared that nearly $25,000 had been spent for the lawsuit demanding the # 1 ranked website listing real estate for sale in Hallbrook be taken down requesting that NO FURTHER marketing for the Hallbrook subdivsion, homes or real estate ever be done.
To be clear, lawyers from Lathrop and Gage wanted written agreement for their real estate clients that the # 1 ranked website on Google sending buyers to the Hallbrook subdivision be taken off the Internet in addition to confirmation that no future marketing would be done pertaining to Hallbrook. This seems completely contrary to everything a real estate company would need and want but for small $25,000 legal fee it was so agreed.
The lawsuit was dismissed, the website is no longer live and Hallbrook real estate sales are down 288% which is no surprise with the aggressive anti-marketing campaign in full force. Interesting to note when the case first came up the website was offered for sale for $1,000 at which point Lathrop and Gage shared the customer had already spent almost $25,000 on the case so they were not interested in buying the website…it would have been MUCH cheaper to just buy the website and keep the # 1 ranking on Google!
There are long term ramifications of immediate actions, begin with the end in mind!