Trademark Law

Physician calling himself 'the real Dr. Joshi' sues indicted doctor with the same name

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A Chicago-area pain management physician, dubbed “the real Dr. Joshi,” has filed suit against a physician with the same name who pleaded guilty in July to illegally distributing opioid medications.

The federal lawsuit describes Dr. Jay K. Joshi as an “imitator” who, upon realizing that he shared the same first and last name as the real Dr. Joshi, capitalized on the real physician’s commercial reputation to transform a modest family medicine practice into a lucrative “pill mill.”

The Chicago Tribune, the Cook County Record and Becker’s Hospital Review covered the Aug. 9 lawsuit.

The imitator, who had medical practices in Illinois and Indiana, misappropriated the real Dr. Joshi’s reviews and gave interviews to journalists who believed the were contacting the plaintiff, the suit alleges. The consumer confusion continued after the imitator was charged, creating “catastrophic effects” on the real Dr. Joshi’s medical practice and taking a toll on his health, the suit says.

In reality, the plaintiff Dr. Joshi was one of the first medical professionals to warn about the opioid epidemic and he has taken a public position against the over prescribing of addictive opioids, the suit says. Now his legacy “has been brought down and subjected to misguided shame.” the suit says.

The suit alleges unjust enrichment and violation of federal and state laws governing trade name dilution, unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.

The plaintiff Dr. Joshi’s lawyer, Mikhael Bortz, told the Tribune that other cases have established that a person who has the same name of another can’t create confusion by capitalizing on the other person’s success. “Your name is Bob Gucci, you can’t just decide to start selling shoes and handbags,” she said.

But University of Notre Dame law professor Mark McKenna told the Tribune that the plaintiff will have to prove intentional deception.

“If there’s a doctor who has the same name and offers similar services, and that doctor turns out to be a bad actor, there’s not a lot trademark law can do about that because you get to use your name,” he said.

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