When Ticketmaster filed its suit against Microsoft last month, red flags should have gone up among all financial services companies that are now linked or intend to be linked to information providers on the Internet.

The sports and entertainment ticket sales company took umbrage at Microsoft's links deep into its Web site. Microsoft, running an entertainment information site called "Seattle Sidewalk," enabled consumers reading about the Mariners baseball club, for example, to click on a Ticketmaster icon and link directly to the Seattle Mariners ticket sales page within the Ticketmaster site, thus bypassing advertising and promotional marketing on the pages leading up to that point. While super- convenient for consumers and providing Ticketmaster with profitable referrals, the hot link does preclude exposure to other events offered at the Ticketmaster site.

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