Woman sues after Google search attached Levitra to her nameBy Mason White 6:20 AM March 10, 2013
By: Debbie Gross
A woman slapped a lawsuit on Google after the search engine offered Levitra after typing her name into the Google search section, according to court proceedings in Illinois.
Now, a federal appeals court dismissed her lawsuit that alleged that Google was using her name to generate revenue through online advertising.
Beverly Stayart, claimed that if someone started writing in a Google search term using her name, Bev Stayart, the search engine offered “Bev Stayart levitra” as a search term. Accepting the suggestion led to announcements of Levitra and other erectile dysfunction treatments, she said.
She alleged that Google was making money using her name without her permission.
The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago rejected her claim and ruled that Google had done nothing wrong.
A trial judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2011. District Judge Lynn Adelman wrote that search term Stayart, had no commercial value and that Google does not receive any value from the relationship between the name and the sexual dysfunction drugs.
Wisconsin law protects against unauthorized commercial exploitation of a person’s name. However, the connection between the name and the commercial interest must be substantial, not accidental, Adelman said.
She also wrote that it was not illegal for Google to use someone’s name for the purpose of communicating information.
“The fact that typing in the woman’s name results in Levitra popping up is only the result of other users having done so in the past,” Adelman wrote.
Stayart argued that her name does have significant commercial value because she is a popular animal rights activist.
“Even if Google’s use of her name was substantial, it still would fall under the public interest exception,” the court opinion, said.
Stayart responded that the decision was “economically driven”. She accused the court of ignoring the law in favor of big business and said she would appeal the ruling again.