* Woman unhappy with results of Internet searches for name
* Results link to ads for drugs to treat sexual dysfunction
* 7th Circuit says privacy rights not violated
By Jonathan Stempel
March 6 A Wisconsin woman trying to protect her
"wholesome" image failed to persuade a federal appeals court to
hold Google Inc liable because searches for her name
could lead people to advertisements for drugs to treat sexual
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said on
Wednesday Beverly Stayart did not show that Google violated
Wisconsin privacy laws by misusing her name to generate
Stayart claimed that a search for "bev stayart" on the
world's largest search engine generates a recommended search for
"bev stayart levitra," which can direct users to websites that
offer treatments for male erectile dysfunction.
The Elkhorn, Wisconsin resident said this was at odds with
her "positive and wholesome image" linked to her advocacy for
animal rights, her research in genealogy, her published poems
and her MBA degree from the University of Chicago.
But a three-judge appeals court panel said Google's alleged
improper use of Stayart's name fell within the "public interest"
and "incidental use" exceptions to Wisconsin's misappropriation
laws, either of which would doom the lawsuit.
Circuit Judge Ann Claire Williams wrote that the search "bev
stayart levitra" was a matter of public interest because Stayart
had made it one by suing Google, and by previously suing rival
Yahoo Inc over similar claims, which she lost.
Williams also said that nothing in Stayart's lawsuit
suggested a "substantial rather than incidental" link between
her name and Google's effort to use it to generate revenue.
Stayart's lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for
comment. The decision took the 7th Circuit more than 11 months
after oral arguments to issue. It upheld a March 2011 ruling by
U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in Milwaukee.
Bayer AG and GlaxoSmithKline Plc sell
Levitra, also known by its chemical name, vardenafil.
The case is Stayart v. Google Inc, 7th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals, No. 11-03012.