Local Case Highlights Internet Keyword Complexity

A Wisconsin case pitting two personal injury law firms against one another is leading many corporate leaders to take a closer look at how internet search strategy could relate to their intellectual property rights on the internet.

In 2009, Robert Habush of Habush Habush & Rottier (HHR) filed a lawsuit against competing firm Cannon & Dunphy (CD), which had purchased the names “Habush” and “Rottier” as keywords for internet searches. Consequently, a person who typed in “Habush” or “Rottier” in leading search engines Google, Yahoo and Bing would find links to CD’s website as sponsored search results.

HHR argued to the Wisconsin court the purchase of the names violated their right to privacy under Wisconsin law and sought an injunction prohibiting CD from using their names in keyword searches. The court concluded HHR was not entitled to an injunction because CD’s use of “Habush” and “Rottier” was reasonable. HHR intends to appeal the court’s decision.

To avoid this troublesome scenario, a company should consider purchasing its corporate name(s), key trademark(s), and other relevant identifiers to ensure that sponsored links do not direct searchers to competitors. For more on how this ruling might affect your business, contact your Boyle Fredrickson attorney, who can also provide a detailed brief on the case.


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Established in 1999, Boyle Fredrickson has grown to become Wisconsin’s largest intellectual property law firm. You’ve got ideas, we protect them.

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