Contact: Ram Avrahami Address: 1001 N. Randolph/#110 Arlington, VA 22201 Telephone: (703) 908-9125 Facsimile: (703) 908-0186 Email: email@example.com LIST SALE CASE MOVES TO THE VA SUPREME COURTARLINGTON, September 25, 1996 -- Ram Avrahami filed a Petition for Appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court in his case against US News and World Report, Inc. to prevent the magazine from selling his name and other subscribers' without permission.
Avrahami sued US News last summer, claiming that the magazine appropriated his name commercially when it traded it as part of its mailing list without his permission. Avrahami based his case on Virginia statute 8.01-40, usually used by celebrities, that prohibits the misappropriation of one's name for commercial purposes. He discovered the unauthorized use by intentionally misspelling his name when subscribing to the magazine, and then detecting the same misspelling in several mail solicitations that he received later at his home in Arlington, VA.
The Virginia Supreme Court already ruled that the names of Virginia residents are their property and can not be used for purposes of trade without prior consent. During the trial, US News admitted that it sells without permission the names of its subscribers for 8 cents a name. However, On June 13, 1996, the Arlington County Circuit Court ruled that Mr. Avrahami does not have property rights in various spellings of his name, that individual names have no value and that the inclusion of names in a mailing list does not constitute a "use for the purpose of trade" and does not violate the Virginia statute.
Avrahami's Petition for Appeal argues that the Circuit Court was wrong at least 13 times in its ruling. Court exhibits show invoices where US News billed to the penny for each name that it sold and that US News exchanged lists on a name per name basis. These facts clearly indicate that each name has value and that names are used for the purposes of trade. The petition also argues that the other legal conclusions adopted by the Circuit Court are either inappropriate to this case or simply wrong.
As an interesting anecdote, when rushing to rule that Avrahami had no property rights in various spelling of his name, the Circuit Court included Mr. Avrahami's proper name as one of the names that he supposedly have no right in, in direct contradiction to the rulings of the VA Supreme Court. These and other simple factual errors lead to believe that the Circuit Court may have been wrong in its conclusions of the case.
The Virginia Supreme Court is expected to rule within two months if it will hear the appeal and, assuming it will, expected to reach a conclusion before the end of 1997. Ram Avrahami said that he is hopeful the Virginia Supreme Court will recognize the facts and the law and prevent the magazine from unauthorized trading in its subscribers' names. He called consumers to express their opinion by filling a petition at his web site (http://www.ragis.com/) that will be passed to their legislators.
Ram Avrahami is represented by Bruce Davis and Patrick Murphy from the Law Offices of Bean, Kinney & Korman in Arlington, VA (telephone 703 525-4000)
--- Information about the case may be obtained on the world wide web from the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, DC (http://www.epic.org/privacy/junk_mail/)
--- Ram Avrahami's Petition and Public Opinion Poll can be reached by sending a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via the world wide web at http://www.ragis.com/
--- Contributions to help defray the legal costs can be sent to the Avrahami Legal Fund, c/o Bean, Kinney & Korman, 2000 North 14th Street, Suite 100, Arlington, VA 22201. Make the checks payable to the Avrahami Legal Fund. Thank You.