Barrichello sues Google and wins!

I’m not sure where Brazilian driver Rubens Barrichello finds the time but he has won his lawsuit against Google Brasil and has been awarded $118,000. The Williams F1 driver was nonplussed with several “fake” accounts that were mocking him on the social networking site.

It’s not the first time something like this has happened. I recall a situation much closer to home in which St. Louis Cardinal Baseball coach Tony La Russa filed a lawsuit against Twitter in 2009 for much the same reason.

La Russa claimed that Twitter was liable under trademark law for the unauthorized use of his name in the profile. He also said postings on the page were “derogatory” and “damaging” to his trademark rights. I June of that year, La Russa dropped the lawsuit claiming there had been a settlement and that Twitter was picking up the legal fees tab but that was refuted by the social networking company.

Twitter responded saying “Twitter has not settled, nor do we plan to settle or pay” and described the suit as “an unnecessary waste of judicial resources bordering on frivolous,”. This lawsuit is the was the first by a celebrity against Twitter for such an offense and it did prompt the social networking giant to launch its verification program for accounts of celebrities.

I wonder what precedent has been set, if any, internationally with Barrichello’s victory. Certainly each nations laws are different but the notion of suing over “fake” social networking over fake accounts seems a fools errand as it would be never ending. Twitter is replete with people pretending to be celebrities and to be honest, I think Twitter approached it the best they could through the verification process.

So our man Rubens goes home with $118,000 of fuel money for his private jet. There is a difference maybe? La Russa filed the suit seeking legal fees to be paid by Twitter as well as a donation to his Animal Rescue Foundation. Wonder if Rubens has any such foundation or is this just “walking around money” for the affable Brazilian?

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