Wis. woman loses privacy lawsuit against Google

by Associated Press, StarTribune  |  published on March 10, 2013

ELKHORN, Wis. – A federal appeals court has dismissed a Wisconsin woman’s lawsuit against Google Inc. alleging that it was using her name to generate revenue through online advertising.

Beverly Stayart, of Elkhorn, alleged that if someone started typing in a Google search for her name, Bev Stayart, the search engine offered “Bev Stayart levitra” as one search term. Accepting that suggestion led to ads for Levitra and other treatments for erectile dysfunction, she said.

She alleged that Google was making money by using her name without her permission.

The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago threw out the lawsuit, ruling that Google had done nothing wrong, according to a Janesville Gazette report (

A lower-court judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2011. District Judge Lynn Adelman wrote that Stayart’s name had no commercial value and that Google receives no value from the connection between her name and sexual-dysfunction medications.

Wisconsin law protects against the unauthorized commercial exploitation of a person’s name. However, the connection between the name and the commercial interest has to be substantial, not incidental, Adelman said.

She also wrote that it wasn’t illegal for Google to use someone’s name for the purpose of communicating information.

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