“Google” is required for reorganization: One could not use a person’s name for promoting a sponsered link

November, 2011 / EKW

Recently the Tel Aviv Magistrate Court ruled that Dr. Klein, a plastic surgeon with high reputation is entitled to compensation from both Google and the aesthetic medicine clinic “Proportsia”, after the latter used Dr. Klein’s name and different combinations of his name in order to divert potential costumers to its website by sponsored links (“Google Adwards”).

“Proportsia” used Dr. Klein’s name in a way that when a web-user clicked the search words “Dov Klein” on Google’s website, the sponsored link to “Proportsia” appeared on the result page, among other results.

The Court ruled that the use done by Google and “Proportsia” to Dr. Klein’s name should be banned on the grounds of invasion of privacy and property. However, the Court chose not to base his ruling on Intellectual Property rights and the reputation Dr. Klein earned to his name, which could also equally apply to names of commercial companies.

The consequences that can grow from this ruling are significant and far reaching for the large internet company Google, and for the commercial companies advertising themselves in search engines.

This case highlights the conflict between trying to balance the need to protect Intellectual Property Rights on the Internet (particularly in search engines), and protecting the competition and the public accessibility to information. However, in this case the court decided not to confront directly with this issue, but to protect person’s name only.

The verdict’s reasons lead to a very problematic outcome and even to anomaly. Thus, a commercial business which carries a private person’s name (“Dr. Klein”), has an advantage and superior rights compared to a commercial business that doesn’t carry a private name (such as: “American Laser”). Goes without saying that this outcome is problematic, to say the least, and creates distinction that we believe is unfair and even contradicts commercial logic.