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Trademark Law

Acronym Soup Suit: AAJ, formerly ATLA, Sues TheATLA

Posted Nov 30, 2007 10:35 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The trial lawyers group once known as ATLA—the Association of Trial Lawyers of America—has sued a new lawyers group that calls itself The American Trial Lawyers Association, or TheATLA.

The old ATLA gave up its name last December and rechristened itself the American Association for Justice. The switch was viewed as an acknowledgment that trial lawyers are unpopular and losing the public relations battle. But the name change doesn’t mean the organization is giving up rights to the old name.

The suit contends the TheATLA confuses ATLA’s membership and infringes the old ATLA’s trademark, the Washington Post reports.

A separate suit against TheATLA by the American College of Trial Lawyers makes similar allegations; indeed the college claimed the old ATLA infringed its name in a suit filed 35 years ago. That suit prompted ATLA to change its name from American Trial Lawyers Association to the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

TheATLA primary founder, J. Keith Givens, defends the name. He says ATLA abandoned its name, and even if it didn’t, his group’s name isn’t the same. It’s also descriptive. “The name defines who we are and what we do," he told the Post.

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