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Milwaukee law firm fails to win reinstatement of lawsuit over rival’s SEO strategy

Habush Habush & Rottier, a law firm based in Milwaukee, has failed to get its lawsuit against a rival firm reinstated by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.

Habush had claimed in its lawsuit that its right to privacy was being violated by a competitor’s purchase of search engine keywords.

Cannon & Dunphy, another Milwaukee based law firm, bought search engine keywords from Google, Yahoo and Bing and modified its internet marketing strategy in such a way that whenever Internet users search for Habush Habush & Rottier, the sponsored ads on those search engines would display Cannon & Dunphy ads.

Habush had claimed in its lawsuit that this violated the Wisconsin privacy law that forbade advertisers from using “the name, portrait or picture of any living person” without consent. But the appeals court rejected Habush’s claims saying that such a strategy was along the lines of a competitor locating an ad or his business near his rival to take advantage of the flow of potential customers. Also, doing it directly or by using the services of a third party was of no meaningful distinction according to the court.

Habush has said that it will seek a review with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, while Cannon issued a statement saying that the decision had brought attorney advertising into the modern era.

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