Third Time's Not a Charm Print
Wednesday, April 24 2013

For the third time, a Wisconsin woman's lawsuit against Internet search companies for allegedly violating her privacy has been dismissed by a court.

Beverly Stayart's latest suit claims that Google violated Wisconsin's misappropriation law by using her name without permission to generate revenue through online advertising. According to the lawsuit filed in federal appeals court in Chicago, Stayart alleged that Google searches for “Bev Stayart” prompts Google to offer “Bev Stayart levitra” as a search term, which results in unwelcome links to ads for medications including Levitra, Cialis and Viagra, all trademarked treatments for male erectile dysfunction. A self-proclaimed genealogy scholar and animal rights activist, Stayart asserts that she is the only "Bev or Beverly Stayart on the Internet," and therefore her name has significant commercial value and is a competitive keyword phrase for Internet search engines.

Wisconsin law protects unauthorized commercial exploitation of a person’s name but only if the connection between the two is substantial. In March 2011, District Judge Lynn Adelman dismissed Stayart’s suit, concluding that her name had no commercial value and that Google receives no value from the connection between her name and sexual dysfunction medications. The appeals court agreed, noting that Stayart's suits against Internet search companies have made her name a matter of public interest, which is an exception to the law under which she is suing. Two previous federal suits filed by Stayart against search engine Yahoo! also were dismissed.

Stayart called the recent decision “economically driven” and said the court was “ignoring the law in favor of big businesses.”

She also has a misappropriation suit in Walworth County Circuit against online data website Various, Inc.

Source: (Janesville, WI)