WV law firm asks court to find its name does not infringe rights - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

WV law firm asks court to find its name does not infringe on other firm's rights

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A West Virginia law firm is asking the federal court to find that its name does not infringe on the rights of another law firm located in Pennsylvania.

The Webb Law Firm PLLC filed the action Aug. 5 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, seeking declaratory, injunctive and other relief against the Pennsylvania-based The Webb Law Firm PC.

The West Virginia firm said the Pennsylvania firm threatened suit for service mark infringement, service mark dilution, false designation of origin, cybersquatting, trade dress infringement and unfair competition.

According to the lawsuit, Charles Webb started the West Virginia practice in February 2006, naming the firm The Webb Law Firm PLLC.

The suit states the firm only practices law in West Virginia, asserting none of the lawyers in the Pennsylvania firm are licensed to practice in the Mountain State.

Attorneys for the West Virginia firm also argued that none of the Pennsylvania attorneys have the surname of Webb, while all of them do at the West Virginia firm.

The Pennsylvania firm sent a letter to the West Virginia firm in July, the suit continues, asking the West Virginia practice to stop using "The Webb Law Firm," and instead use names such as "The Law Office of Rusty Webb" or "Rusty Webb and Associates"

In the letter, which was included as an exhibit in the suit, the Pennsylvania firm noted it is an intellectual property firm that secured the mark "The Webb Law Firm" and "webblaw.com" for use in legal services in the 1990s.

"In the past, because you had done business as ‘The Law Offices of Rusty Webb,' and had not made your corporate name of ‘The Webb Law Firm, PLLC' a focus of your marketing, we were content to attempt to coexist, with each firm pursuing their respective practices," the letter from the Pennsylvania firm states.

"It has recently come to our attention that you are more prominently featuring the term ‘The Webb Law Firm' in your marketing, including your website … and it is our considered opinion that such increased use of ‘The Webb Law Firm' infringes our firm's intellectual property interests in and to its trademark registrations identified above in violation of the Lanham Act," the letter in the exhibit further stated.

The letter from the Pennsylvania firm also asked the West Virginia law firm to add a disclaimer to its website to distinguish the two firms, which the West Virginia firm said it has done.

A response from The Webb Law Firm PC has not yet been filed.