MINNEAPOLIS (January 2011) - Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. announced today that the American Association for Justice®, f/k/a/Association of Trial Lawyers of America ("AAJ"), successfully resolved its trademark infringement action enforcing its exclusive rights in the trademarks ATLA® and ASSOCIATION OF TRIAL LAWYERS OF AMERICA.
Since at least 1979, AAJ, the world's largest plaintiff's bar association, has used the marks ATLA® and ASSOCIATION OF TRIAL LAWYERS OF AMERICA to identify its association and related services. AAJ adopted the name American Association for Justice in 2006 to better reflect its mission of promoting a fair and effective justice system for all Americans. Despite the name change, AAJ continued to use the ATLA® and ASSOCIATION OF TRIAL LAWYERS OF AMERICA marks in member communications and to promote its legal education services and publications.
In 2007, a competing organization called "The American Trial Lawyers Association" was launched, using the abbreviation "TheATLA." AAJ's initial efforts to persuade the new organization to change its name were unsuccessful and the organization asserted that AAJ had abandoned its trademark rights as a result of its rebranding. AAJ sued for trademark infringement under the Federal Lanham Act and for violation of the Anticybersquatting Protection Act.
The settlement comes after the Honorable Joan M. Ericksen of the United States District Court granted AAJ's motion for summary judgment, finding as a matter of law that AAJ had not abandoned its rights in the ATLA® and ASSOCIATION OF TRIAL LAWYERS OF AMERICA marks. In addition to finding that AAJ did not abandon its trademark rights, the District of Minnesota also denied in its entirety the motion for summary judgment brought by the new organization, leaving AAJ trial ready with all of its claims in tact and paving the way for a successful settlement.
Under the settlement terms, the defendants have agreed to rename their association and related publications; cease and permanently desist from any further infringement of the ATLA® and ASSOCIATION OF TRIAL LAWYERS OF AMERICA marks; acknowledge AAJ's exclusive trademark rights; and make a significant contribution to AAJ by participating in the Leaders Forum, a select group of firms that help AAJ protect the civil justice system.
AAJ/ATLA is represented in this matter by Christopher K. Larus and Michael Collyard of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P. "We were honored to help the AAJ protect its trademark rights in this case; and I am very pleased that the matter has resolved on terms favorable to our client. AAJ maintained from the outset that it did not abandon its trademark rights when it engaged in a corporate rebranding campaign. We were gratified that the court correctly found that AAJ did not abandon its longstanding trademark rights simply because it adopted a new corporate name," said Larus.
"We are grateful for the excellent representation, commitment and dedication that the lawyers at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. provided on this trademark matter. We are very pleased that we could reach an amicable settlement with defendants that recognizes AAJ's exclusive rights to the names Association of Trial Lawyers of America and ATLA®, reaffirming that AAJ is the premier organization for trial lawyers nationwide," said C. Gibson Vance, president of AAJ.
As the world's largest trial bar, the American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA®)) works to make sure people have a fair chance to receive justice through the legal system when they are injured by the negligence or misconduct of others-even when it means taking on the most powerful corporations. Visit http://www.justice.org/newsroom.