Stratton Faxon Sues Google for Alleged Search Irregularities

A lawsuit filed by Stratton Faxon, is asking for a $50,000 pre-judgment lien against Google while also pursuing an injunction to prevent Google from selling Connecticut law firm names as so-called adwords.

When performing a Google search for either Stratton Faxon or RisCassi & Davis, those firms’ websites invariably came up in the second position. Above it, shaded in light yellow to indicate a paid advertisement, was a listing labeled “Defending Patients’ Rights.” Smaller type displayed the URL, which belongs to Silver, Golub & Teitell, a competitive personal injury law firm located in Stamford, CT. When this was discovered by Stratton Faxon partner Michael Stratton, he was not amused. “I don’t think Google should make money selling my law firm’s name,” he said.

As the Internet continues to evolve as an integral marketing tool for business, connecting with clients and the concept of potential customers searching for your firm’s name would seem to be a given. But when a cursory Google search revealed SearchAboveit, a sponsored advertisement for a competitor, in association with that cursory Google search, New Haven based personal injury lawyers Michael Stratton and Joel Faxon decided to take legal steps. They’ve filed suit against Google in New Haven Superior Court, alleging that the search engine giant improperly sold advertising rights to the Stratton Faxon name, to a competitor.

It isn’t the only such example. Other businesses have also discovered that while performing a Google search on their proper company business or marketing name, that a competitor’s name is sometimes placed on the top of the stack above the searched name, as a sponsored ad. According to a May 27th report in the Connecticut Law Tribune, companies such as American Airlines and Geico Insurance have filed similar grievances with Google before ultimately settling them.

In this instance, a Google campaign referred to as “Adwords” featured the Stratton Faxon law firm as a series of keywords within the online marketing strategy of personal injury firm Silver, Golub & Teitell. It should be noted that SGT was not named as a defendant in the Stratton Faxon lawsuit, which asks for a $50,000 pre-judgment lien against Google and is also pursuing an injunction to prevent Google from selling Connecticut law firm names as so-called adwords. Michael Stratton indicated that in addition to suing Google, his firm was planning to ask the Connecticut Bar Association for an ethics opinion.

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