Jones Day Lawyers Apparently Don’t Know the Law

by on September 22, 2008 · 25 comments

[The following post discusses a matter of public interest and people who have brought public attention upon themselves. It contains only expressions of opinion and recitations of facts that I believe in good faith to be true. It should be clear, and I urge you to be clear, that the only service provider discussed in the post, involved in authoring the post, or involved in publishing the post is the law firm Jones Day and its attorneys. Let there be no confusing that this is all about Jones Day. Since it’s a post critical of Jones Day, there should be no implication to anyone that Jones Day could possibly endorse the content of this post or this blog. I say all this so that any nitwit attorney who thinks this blog post gives him or her a cause of action will be on notice that nothing said here violates trademark law, everything here is protected speech under the First Amendment, and that no cause of action can possibly lie against any person for this publication.]

It’s fascinating sometimes to see lawyers with an abundance of power and no sense of judgment – especially big-firm lawyers who shouldn’t exhibit their poor judgment and ignorance of basic legal doctrine to current and prospective clients.

But the law firm of Jones Day has some lawyers working for it who really don’t seem to have a clue about trademark law. I never practiced trademark law, and I seem to know more about it than they do.

The case is well described on the Citizen Media Law Project Web site.

Founded in 2006, is a start-up local online real estate news service covering Chicago, South Florida, Las Vegas, and St. Louis. Its reporting staff is made up of ex-print journalists who collect public real estate sales data, then use information in the public domain (e.g. company web sites) to write news stories about recent transactions. . . . Three [BlockShopper stories] reported the real estate transactions of partners and associates from Jones Day, the large international law firm.

Jones Day sued on Aug. 12, 2008 in federal court in Illinois. The complaint alleges that infringed and diluted the firm’s service mark and violated state trademark and unfair competition laws by using the word “Jones Day” when referring to the real estate transactions of Jones Day attorneys, linking to its site and using lawyers’ photos from its site. The firm contends that these activities creates the false impression that Jones Day is affiliated with or sponsors

Jones Day sought a temporary restraining order preventing BlockShopper from writing about its lawyers or linking to its web site. . . . Jones Day told BlockShopper it would drop the case if BlockShopper paid it $10,000 and agreed to never write about its lawyers’ real estate transactions again, according to the National Law Journal. BlockShopper declined the offer.

Some exhibits to the Jones Day lawsuit are here. It shows the demand letters that a Jones Day attorney named Meredith M. Wilkes sent. She’s a partner in the Cleveland office specializing in – believe it or not – intellectual property. Her letters, and the complaint she filed with another Jones Day attorney named Paul Schroeder, appear to me to reflect an embarrassing ignorance of trademark law. It’s pretty darn obvious that the uses Blockshopper made of Jones Day’s name, and the names and images of Jones Day lawyers, don’t violate Jones Day‘s rights.

Yet these lawyers signed the Jones Day firm onto a lawsuit, the only basis of which could be some absurd extension of trademark to where it obviously doesn’t belong. It’s foolishness. And it makes Jones Day look bad. Jones Day, the big law firm. It looks like its attorneys don’t know the law. People could say, “The lawyers at Jones Day, they’re not my kinda lawyers.”

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