Intellectual Property Law

PI Attorneys Sue Google Over 'Adwords' Sale of Law Firm Name to Competitor


Two Connecticut personal injury lawyers are suing Google, contending that the Internet search engine improperly sold advertising rights concerning their law firm name to a competitor.

When Internet users type Stratton Faxon into the Google search engine, say plaintiffs Michael Stratton and Joel Faxon in the New Haven Superior Court suit, they are linked to the competing Silver Golub & Teitell law firm, reports the Connecticut Law Tribune.

“If it wasn’t so damned deceptive, I’d be very flattered,” Stratton tells the legal publication. “If you’re looking to find Stratton Faxon in the Google News search, you get any recent article about Stratton Faxon. And right on top of that article will be a link to this SGT firm, and how they do medical malpractice cases throughout Connecticut … . That’s the oldest advertising trick in the book, trying to take over the name of the competitor.”

In addition to an injunction prohibiting Google from selling such “adwords” concerning their own Stratton Faxon firm, the two plaintiffs reportedly are asking the court to enjoin the sale of law firm names, period. The two partners also plan to ask the Connecticut Bar Association for an ethics opinion concerning the advertising practice.

Contacted by the legal publication, partner Richard Silver of Silver Golub initially said he hadn’t been aware of the advertising practice. In a subsequent e-mail, he said that an unidentified marketing company had confirmed that other law firm names were listed “amongst the hundreds of keywords,” in a standard Google Adwords campaign, the Law Tribune reports.

Silver said in the e-mail that he had instructed the firm’s “provider” to remove all law firm references, and said he would have done so earlier had Stratton Faxon contacted his firm directly.

The article doesn’t include any comment from Google, which provides further information about its advertising practices on a Google AdWords page.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Lawyer’s Suit Against Google Transferred”

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