Internet Law

Plaintiff Law Firm Bought Competitor Keywords, Too, Argues Defense in Web Ad Suit


In an unusual lawsuit filed in November, a Wisconsin law firm claimed that a competitor had violated state privacy law by purchasing its name from several search engines for use as advertising keywords.

By doing so, Cannon & Dunphy improperly arranged to put its own law firm profile atop the Internet search results generated when potential clients looked for Habush Habush & Rottier, the suit says. But the Habash firm itself is doing the same thing, contended defense lawyer J. Ric Gass in a circuit court hearing last week, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Demonstrating in court by searching for Cannon and Dunphy on Yellowpages.com, Gass showed that a large ad for the Habush firm popped up when this search was performed, the newspaper recounts. He argued not only that the suit should be dismissed based on this “unclean hands” theory but that the Habush firm violated its duty of candor to the court and hence should be sanctioned.

Judge Charles Kahn Jr. continued the hearing on Cannon & Dunphy’s motion to dismiss so that Habush would have a chance to respond to the unclean hands contention. When the surprise argument was made during the hearing, both Robert Habush and counsel Jim Clark leaped to their feet to object, calling the attack unfair.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “PI Firm Sues Competitor for Hijacking Name in Online Searches”

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