Double Trouble: Two Firms That Can’t Share the Same Name
It was said a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, but it’s also a fact that two different flowers that just so happen to have the same name will smell very differently. While they might be allowed to hold the same name for a certain time, eventually someone will attempt to rename one of them and some people might even be frustrated that they were allowed to hold the same name for so long in the first place.
This kind of scenario played out recently in Colorado where Gilbert Law recently lost an appeal case against Gilbert Law. In the case, casually referred to as “The tale of two Gilberts;” Christopher Gilbert claims to have owned the gilbert-law.com domain name since 2003 having practiced under the Gilbert Law Firm name in Texas. After moving to Colorado, he registered his previous branding with the state when he eventually opened his own office.
The problem was that there was already another Gilbert Law Firm owned by a James Gilbert who was not too happy about the duplicate name. Given that there were two Gilbert Law Firms, confusion between the attorneys and clients both current and potential ensued.
“I’ve worked hard to build up a reputation locally and nationally, said James. When someone starts to create confusion with people who want to use your services, you can’t allow that to happen. We’ve had at least three separate instances where consumers were confused about those similarities.”
A settlement agreement was made where both firms would avoid using the stand alone Gilbert Law name while Christopher’s firm would put up a disclaimer discounting any affiliation with James’ firm also putting up a link to his site to differentiate them.
James however sued Christopher again when he felt aspects of that agreement were violated given that Christopher continued to use the gilbert-law.com domain. Appealing the decision, the court ruled in the favor of James. Currently being of The Gilbert Law Group, it was originally known as James L. Gilbert and Associated when founded in 1981; then in 2011, it took on its current name.
Appeals Court Judge Steven Bernard didn’t feel that the hyphen distinguished the domain name significantly enough from Gilbert Law as it was just one punctuation away from being just that.
It was stated that, “The defendant shall have 30 days from the date of this order to change his domain name to sufficiently avoid non-compliance and to ultimately move his email and other content to the new domain.”
Other than that, James’ law group was awarded damages of $1.
If you feel that a legal agreement you’re involved with has not been honored, it may be beneficial to speak with a personal injury attorney, like from Eric Roy Law Firm, about your legal options and next steps.