Court Dismisses Case Against Yahoo From Woman Upset How She Appeared In Results

from the not-yahoo's-liability dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about a woman named Beverly Stayart, who had sued Yahoo over what she found when she did a search on her name. Her complaint was that some of the links advertised porn sites and possibly contained malware, and that this was a violation of her trademark and privacy rights. After the posting, we received a number of comments on that post, and more recently, received a legal letter from the woman's lawyer, demanding that we remove many of the comments or get sued. With the help of Paul Alan Levy at Public Citizen, we replied to the letter, refusing to remove the comments, and detailing our reasons why. To date, we have not been sued over this, but you may want to take our reporting on the subject with whatever caveats, given these facts.

Earlier this week, the court dismissed the lawsuit against Yahoo and denied Stayart's request to refile. The court had trouble with the idea that this was a trademark claim, noting that just because she does not like how her name is shown, it does not create a trademark violation. There are two major problems: (1) she doesn't appear to be using her name in commerce in this particular field and (2) there is little to no likelihood of confusion. From the ruling:
Similarly, Stayart is not engaged in the commercial marketing of her identity, and she does not allege an intent to commercialize. Stayart alleges that her name has commercial value, but it is clear that Stayart's complaint arises from the distasteful association of her name with pornographic images, advertisements for sexual dysfunction drugs, and a sexually-oriented dating service..... Stayart cannot satisfy this requirement [likelihood of confusion] as a matter of law because her complaint explicitly disavows any association with pornographic materials, sexual dysfunction drugs, or sexually-oriented dating services (i.e., Various' website AdultFriendFinder.com). As noted above, Stayart alleges that "in no way has [she] ever engaged in a promiscuous lifestyle, or other overt sexual activities, which she and a large portion of her community and social circle consider perverse and abhorrent." Complaint, ¶ 20. This allegation contravenes the likelihood of confusion, and Stayart pleaded herself out of court on her Lanham Act claim. No one who accessed these links could reasonably conclude that Bev Stayart endorsed the products at issue.
From this, it would certainly appear that the court is not at all persuaded that you can bring a trademark infringement lawsuit against a search engine based on how your name appears.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Xyro TR1 (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 4:33pm

    Well...

    She got her wish anyways. Entries from this case as well as other results have shown up on the first page of a Yahoo! search of her name.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 5:12pm

    Stand by for my now-standard response...

    Beverly Stayart is a skank.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Danny (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 6:04pm

    That was such a "Stayart"

    I propose that we refer to clueless, inane, un-winnable lawsuits as "stayarts".

    Let's see how she reacts to that!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Trails, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 6:20pm

    Letters

    Can you post the letter you got and the reply? I'm interested is all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymouse, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 6:47pm

    Hmm...

    I wonder if this is the same Beverly Stayart that was arrested for drugs and prostitution in my home town?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 6:58pm

    The skank comment and references to drugs and prostitution are way out of line. I think she's a moron, but that's a provable assertion. The other comments posted are truly insulting and degrading to this woman.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 7:31pm

    Re:

    Only an imbecile would think that she is a moron when she is clearly an idiot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    RD, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 7:39pm

    Once again....

    Once again, lets all say it together...


    Just because someone says something about you that you dont like

    DOES

    NOT

    FUCKING

    MAKE

    IT

    ILLEGAL.

    Please, for the love of JESUS, get this shit through your idiotic heads.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 8:20pm

    Re: Stand by for my now-standard response...

    A dirty skank at that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 8:31pm

    Re: That was such a "Stayart"

    I second that.
    Just so we don't get sued, maybe we can call them "Skankyarts"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Beverly Stayart is an Ignorant Skank Cunt Skank, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 11:09pm

    Skanky skank with a cuntsy cunt.

    Bitch needs to grow the fuck up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    JackSombra (profile), Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 3:02am

    This had never anything to do with her being "upset". The real reason can be found on her profile, or more accurately her current job description


    "Manage financial and marketing aspects of Stayart Law Offices."

    It was all about raising the profile of her family law firm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Lawrence™ D'Oliveiro®, Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 3:23am

    I thought you couldn’t trademark your own name anyway

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 6:12am

    Would love to see your reply too. Bitch deserved it :).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    ChrisB (profile), Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 6:45am

    Re: I thought you couldnt trademark your own name anyway

    I agree, and in any case, why would Google be at fault? It is just an index. She should sue the individual sites.

    Maybe we should be impressed that people are starting to think of Google as _the_ internet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re: I thought you couldnt trademark your own name anyway

    Google != Yahoo :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Riddler, Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 10:06am

    Re:

    You are a fucking skank-whore, moron.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Ben (profile), Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 11:31am

    Re:

    the sank comment is a play on the girl who sued google to get the identity of someone who called her a skank on her blog.

    see http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090823/1641525967.shtml

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    H. W., Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 8:57am

    lawsuit

    I have heard that Wisconsin is the only state that does not require law school graduates of their two vanity schools, Marquette and U.W., to pass two bar exams, the MBE (Multistate Bar Exam) and the State Bar Exam. Most of the other states require that law school graduates pass both these exams. The lawyers and lawyers who ultimately become judges in Wiscosin apparently are so superior to the rest of the country that they are above taking these exams. Even beautifician, bartenders and barbers in Wisconsin must take and pass exams before being licensed. So, all you unemployed techies in California, come to Wisconsin where you can "practice law" without taking any exams whatsoever!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    H. W., Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 8:59am

    lawsuit

    I have heard that Wisconsin is the only state that does not require law school graduates of their two vanity schools, Marquette and U.W., to pass two bar exams, the MBE (Multistate Bar Exam) and the State Bar Exam. Most of the other states require that law school graduates pass both these exams. The lawyers and lawyers who ultimately become judges in Wiscosin apparently are so superior to the rest of the country that they are above taking these exams. Even beauticians, bartenders and barbers in Wisconsin must take and pass exams before being licensed. So, all you unemployed techies in California, come to Wisconsin where you can "practice law" without taking any exams whatsoever!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    C.W.K., Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 9:14am

    lawsuit

    So the lawyers and judge in this case were probably not required to pass the two exams required by all the other states in the country? What does this say about the decision rendered by this Wisconsin judge? To be licensed to practice law in Wisconsin without taking or passing these exams, all he had to do was attend Marquette University or U.W. Marquette isn't such a great school and neither is U.W. I have never heard of another state giving law school graduates a license without taking and passing these two exams. You would never hear of Massachusetts allowing Harvard graduates to practice law without taking and passing these exams before they are licensed. What a joke the Wisconsin court system is!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    mermaldad (profile), Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 2:31pm

    Oh those nutty lawyers

    I certainly hope that my comment on the original post was one of the ones that Bev Stayart's lawyer (who also does not want Beverly Stayart's name associated with porn) wanted removed. I would consider it a badge of honor.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 4:03pm

    Re: lawsuit

    lol. This assumes that the lawyers in the case are all from Wisconsin, which they are not.

    Judge Randa has been on the state and federal bench for 34 years. Yeah, too bad

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Laid Off Skank, Sep 14th, 2009 @ 8:30am

    Wisconsin lawyers and judges a travesty!

    The judge assigned to this case is 70 years old and should have retired years ago. There definitely should be a mandatory retirement age for federal judges as this 70-year-old judge egregiously evidences. Not only is he quite elderly, he never passed the Bar Exam which is mandatory in the remaining 49 states! He attended U.W. The state of Wisconsin routinely licenses lawyers who attended U.W. or Marquette without requiring them to take or pass the Bar Exam! The Bar Exam is a very rigorous exam involving both essay questions and multiple choice questions. Some lawyers are forced to take it several times before they pass because of its extreme difficulty. Doctors, C.P.A.s, and even realtors in Wisconsin are required to pass rigorous exams before being licensed. Why are Wisconsin lawyers and judges given a free ride?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Cal, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 6:05am

    The only people commenting on this forum are obviously techies, either already laid off or about to be fired. Consider the source of these comments and the lack of credibility of anonymous attacks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Shane, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 9:27am

    Randa is an Arab name.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Trevor, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 1:16pm

    I heard that the judge involved in this case is not highly regarded in legal circles. Supposedly his decisions have a 50% reversal rate in the appellate court. Most judges are only reversed 5% of the time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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