Lawyer's Name Not Entitled to Trademark Protection

In a dispute between a prominent intellectual property lawyer and his former firm, a Pennsylvania federal judge has refused to issue an injunction that would have forced the firm to completely eliminate all uses of the departing lawyer's name and all mention of his court victories.

In her 27-page opinion in Tillery v. Leonard & Sciolla, Senior U.S. District Judge Norma L. Shapiro found that attorney M. Kelly Tillery of Pepper Hamilton is not likely to succeed on any of the five claims he alleged.

Specifically, Shapiro found that Tillery's name is not entitled to trademark protection because it has not acquired any "secondary meaning."

"The recognition of individual lawyers' names as trademarks without a strong showing of secondary meaning could hinder the creation of new law firms (since, unlike other businesses, law firms are traditionally identified by personal names and not fanciful trade names) and the ability of individuals to practice law in their chosen field without changing their names," Shapiro wrote.

Details here from The Legal Intelligencer via