Wisconsin Court Approves Use of Competitor’s Name as Keywords

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A Wisconsin appellate court issued its decision Thursday in a case where a law firm, Cannon & Dunphy, bid on the keywords “Habush” and “Rottier” in Google, Yahoo and Bing, to ensure that people searching for the large personal injury firm Habush Habush & Rottier would see Cannon & Dunphy’s sponsored link above the organic search results.  Habush sued, claiming that Cannon & Dunphy’s use of the search terms violated Wisconsin’s right to privacy statute.  Cannon & Dunphy argued it didn’t violate privacy laws because the Habush firm’s names are not visible in Cannon & Dunphy’s sponsored links or its website.  The 1st District Court of Appeals agreed in its ruling, but stopped short of exempting all non-visible use from coverage under the statute. The court stated, “There may be variations on non-visible use of a name that we are not able to anticipate. Accordingly, our holding is limited to the Internet keyword search term and results mechanism before us.”

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