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Decision 7th Cir Stayart v Yahoo

Decision 7th Cir Stayart v Yahoo

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Published by mschwimmer
7th cricuit stayart yahoo
7th cricuit stayart yahoo

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Published by: mschwimmer on Oct 01, 2010
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10/01/2010

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Hon. John W. Darrah, District Judge for the Northern
￿
District of Illinois, is sitting by designation.
In the
United States Court of Appeals
 For the Seventh Circuit
 
No. 09-3379B
EVERLY
S
TAYART
 ,
Plaintiff-Appellant
 ,
v.
Y
AHOO
!
 
I
NC
.,
 
O
VERTURE
S
ERVICES
 ,I
NC
.,
 
d/b/a A
LTA
V
ISTA AND
V
ARIOUS
 ,I
NC
.,
 
d/b/a F
RIENDFINDER
.
COM
 ,
Defendants-Appellees.
 
Appeal from the United States District Courtfor the Eastern District of Wisconsin.No. 09 CV 00116
 — 
Rudolph T. Randa
 ,
 Judge.
 
A
RGUED
M
ARCH
31,
 
2010
 — 
D
ECIDED
S
EPTEMBER
30,
 
2010
 
Before M
ANION
and
 
W
ILLIAMS
 ,
Circuit Judges
 , andD
ARRAH
 ,
District Judge.
￿
M
ANION
 ,
Circuit Judge.
Like many, Beverly Stayart wascurious about what she would find when she put her
 
2No. 09-3379name into a search engine. In this case it was Yahoo.To her dismay, the comprehensive search results eventu-ally contained links to websites and advertisementsthat she found shameful. She then sued Yahoo and theother defendants alleging trademark infringement anda host of state law claims. The district court dismissedher complaint, finding she lacked standing under theLanham Act to sue for trademark infringement. Sheappeals, and because we agree that Stayart lacksstanding under the Lanham Act, we affirm.I.In her complaint, Stayart describes herself as a “sophis-ticated, well-educated, and highly intelligent profes-sional woman.” She has an M.B.A. from the Universityof Chicago, she has written a few papers that appear onthe internet, and she is passionate about the environ-ment, particularly the plight of wild horses, wolves,and baby seals. She has written two poems about babyseals that appear on a Danish website and has vigorouslyprotested against their treatment.At some point, believing she was the only BeverlyStayart on the internet, she put her name into Yahoo’ssearch engine. This case centers on what she found.Among the results she anticipated, there were also linksto online pharmaceutical companies, links to porno-graphic websites, and links that directed her to otherwebsites promoting sexual escapades. She searched againand again in the following weeks, sometimes amplifyingher searches. For example, she searched for “Bev Stayart
 
No. 09-33793Cialis” and “Levitra Bev Stayart.” Each time linksdirecting her to online pharmaceutical companies wouldappear. She repeated these searches numerous times,sometimes changing the terms. At one point, she noticedher name appeared linked to a weblog
 — 
“a blog”
 — 
thatshe had previously posted a comment on. But, whenshe clicked on the link, the content did not bear anyrelation to her comment; instead, it led her to anotherpornographic website.Troubled by all of this, she wrote Yahoo and demandedthat it remove all such results. It eventually emailedher, stating: “we do not aim to judge web for appropri-ateness or censor materials that we find offensive orinappropriate.” And Stayart responded by filing suitagainst Yahoo and the other defendants who had somerelation to the material she found disagreeable, claimingtrademark infringement and various other state lawclaims. Specifically, she claims that the defendants’ con-duct violated § 43(a) of the Lanham Act because thesearch results that appear with her name improperlygave her endorsement to pornography and online phar-maceuticals.In the district court, the defendants moved to dismissStayart’s complaint, which is forty-four pages long withover thirty exhibits. In a thorough and well-reasonedopinion, the district court granted the defendants’ mo-tion, finding that Stayart pleaded herself out of court.In particular, the district court found that because shedid not have a commercial interest in her name, Stayartdid not have standing under the Lanham Act to make

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