October 15, 2012: The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals released a unanimous decision which holds that under the First Amendment, Yellow Pages directories are “fully protected speech” and not “commercial speech.”  The appeals court determined that print directories are entitled to the same standards under the First Amendment as newspapers, magazines, etc.

“Although portions of the directories are obviously commercial in nature, the books contain more than that, and we conclude that the directories are entitled to the full protection of the First Amendment,” Judge Richard R. Clifton wrote for the unanimous panel.

Procedurally, the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Seattle U.S. District Court and remanded the case to the lower court to enter a final judgment in favor of our Industry.

According to lawyers on behalf of the Local Search Association (LSA) – the trade association for local search companies like SuperMedia – if the City of Seattle wants to continue with the case, only two options are available:

  • The City could seek a rehearing before the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.  However, in cases such as ours where there is a unanimous decision, a rehearing is rare.
  • The City of Seattle could seek a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
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