Ram Avrahami of 1001 N. Randolph street, Arlington, Virginia, filed a motion against "US News & World Report" for selling his name, without prior written permission, to the Smithsonian Institution which sent him an unrequested mail soliciation for its "Smithsonian Magazine."
Avrahami claims that USN&WR has benefited commercially from his name, thus violating Section 8.01-40 of the Virgnia Code which protects every person from having his/her name being used for commercial purpose without consent. While Section 8.01-40 is more known for protecting celebrities from misappropriating their name, Avrahami claims in his suit that the selling of magazine subscriber lists also, in effect, misappropriates his name. The Arlington man also accuses USN&WR of "conversion," that is, taking control of his name or property and using it for its own purposes without prior consent.
Judge Jospeh Gwaltney of the Arlington COunty General District Court set a trial date for November 27th, 1995 (Civil Action No. 95-7479). In-house counsel for USN&WR, present in court, agreed to this trial date.
Avrahami said he hoped the motion would help "set up a more equitable and efficient interaction between consumer and corporations in the information age." If successful, the suit should also help reduce the amount of junk mail, he added, since much of this mailing is based on lists that are sold withou consumers' permission.
Ram Avrahami is represented by the Law Offices of Jonathan C. Dailey in Arlington, Virgnia (telephone 703-351-5097, fax 703-351-9292).