TigerLaw loses bid to evade Chicago Law Tigers claims
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- TigerLaw has not shown at this point that Law Tigers is using trademarks illegally
- Defendant argued Law Tigers violated state law as a referral service for lawyers
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(Reuters) – The American Association for Motorcycle Injury Lawyers – a national group of law firms that operates as Law Tigers – on Tuesday defeated a Chicago attorney’s offer to dismiss claims that its use of the name TigerLaw infringes its trademarks.
U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman in Chicago rejected an argument made by Howard Piggee – whose HP3 Law firm advertises as TigerLaw – that the Law Tigers trademarks were inapplicable in Illinois because its business model violates state law.
Law Tigers and his attorneys Brad Hartman of Hartman Titus and Belinda Scrimenti of Pattishall, McAuliffe, Newbury, Hilliard & Geraldson did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did HP3 Law or his attorneys Constance Grieves and Christopher May of Massey & Gail.
Law Tigers sued Howard Piggee and HP3 Law – where he is the only lawyer – last August, alleging that his use of “TigerLaw” with images of tigers to advertise his firm was intended to profit from Law’s brands. Tigers and to deceive consumers.
HP3 Law decided to dismiss the case in October, arguing among other things that Law Tigers’ business model violates Illinois law as a for-profit referral service, rendering its brands inapplicable in the state because they are used to advertise illegal behavior.
But Feinerman said on Tuesday that it was not clear whether the 7th United States Court of Appeals even recognized the ‘illegal use’ defense, and if so, “it is not certain that a suspected infringer could rely on the infringement by the owner of the against a federal trademark infringement claim.
And although the defense is available, HP3 Law has not shown at this point in the case that Law Tigers violates Illinois law. The Law Tigers website specifically states that this is not a referral service, and it would be a “substantial leap to maintain oral argument, without the benefit of an evidentiary record, that an organization stating on its website that it “doesn’t endorse specific lawyers or operate as a referral service ‘actually advertises itself as a lawyer referral service,” Feinerman said.
Law Tigers’ claim that TigerLaw has diluted its “Law Tigers” brand also survived the motion. Feinerman said Law Tigers’ complaint sufficiently asserted that the brand was famous enough to warrant a dilution claim, noting among other things that it had been used for more than 20 years in 42 U.S. markets in a wide variety of media.
The case is American Association of Motorcycle Injury Lawyers Inc v. HP3 Law LLC, US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, No. 1: 20-cv-04866.
For Law Tigers: Brad Hartman of Hartman Titus; and Belinda Scrimenti of Pattishall McAuliffe Newbury Hilliard & Geraldson
For HP3 Law: Constance Grieves and Christopher May of Massey & Gail