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Woman Upset by Porn Links to Her Name Loses Yahoo Infringement Suit

Posted Oct 5, 2010 5:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A federal appeals court has thrown out a lawsuit filed by a woman who was dismayed by the results when she searched for her name on Yahoo.

“Like many, Beverly Stayart was curious about what she would find when she put her name into a search engine,” says the opinion by the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Typing her name into Yahoo’s search engine, Stayart found “links to online pharmaceutical companies, links to pornographic websites, and links that directed her to other websites promoting sexual escapades.”

Stayart sued for trademark infringement after Yahoo refused to remove the troubling search results. She claimed the links amounted to an endorsement for pornography and online pharmaceuticals. But the 7th Circuit, in an opinion published by Leagle, found Stayart has no commercial interest in her name, and therefore lacks standing under the federal Lanham Act. Stayart had argued that her charitable activities, including her humanitarian protests on behalf of baby seals, gave her name commercial value.

Stayart can still file her remaining state law claims in state court, according to the Technology and Marketing Law Blog. She also has a suit pending against Google.

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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