When will we ever learn? The story here is about a lawsuit by lawyer Moira Bernstein, who complains, on behalf of a purported class, that by listing her plain-vanilla attorney name and address and regular old directory information on Avvo.com while festooning her unremarkable data with competing profiles, she’s been wronged. Actionably.
J. Michael Keyes from Dorsey & Whitney, the guy who clocked those clowns in the Southern District of Florida on behalf of Angry Birds and who blogs at TheTMCA.com (and a Friend of Simon), has been watching the Avvo-suing-lawyer business for a while. “Avvo has been sued at least twice before over its lawyer rating system–and it prevailed both times. In one of those cases the court ordered the plaintiff to pay fees to Avvo,” he points out.
Courts are loathe to silence the rating of professionals and reduce the flow of information to consumers of legal services, Michael notes, and he’s right — not only regarding professionals, of course, as we demonstrated here, for example, in our own unique way — in fact, the claim linked to there, reported as Boarding Sch. Review, LLC v. Delta Career Educ. Corp., 108 U.S.P.Q.2d 1785 (S.D.N.Y. 2013) is almost identical to the one being made by Bernstein in Illinois, although it is not based on the right of publicity; it is still every bit as silly.
“It’s hard to see how a lawyer’s right of publicity–the right to control the commercial use of one’s name, image, or likeness–could trump the right of the public to have access to this information,” Michael says. Obviously, it can’t, even if Avvo’s ratings are a little goofy. Hey, it’s a free country! Read More…