Court Dismisses Case Against Yahoo From Woman Upset How She Appeared In Results
from the not-yahoo's-liability dept
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.