"A Minnesota federal judge recently ruled that the American Association for Justice's trademark infringement lawsuit against an organization and individual using the name American Trial Lawyers Association and the acronym ATLA will go to trial.
On March 18, Judge Joan Ericksen of the District of Minnesota denied two summary judgment motions from defendants American Trial Lawyers Association Inc. and J. Keith Givens. Ericksen also granted a motion by the AAJ in ruling that it had not abandoned its trademark for its former name.
The American Association for Justice (AAJ), a plaintiffs' counsel advocacy group, was known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America until July 2006, when the members voted to change its name. According to court papers, AAJ has changed its name several times since it was founded in 1946, and it registered the trademark "ATLA" with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 1976.
AAJ member Givens reserved the corporate name the American Trial Lawyers Association Inc. with the Alabama secretary of state in March 2007 and filed for incorporation, along with his brother, Chase Givens, the same month. Ericksen's ruling noted that the group's purpose on its articles of incorporate was to provide a magazine and educational news "relevant to civil plaintiff and criminal defense trial lawyers." Givens' association sent letters to prospective members in June and November 2007, and the AAJ filed its lawsuit in November 2007.
The AAJ is opposing the American Trial Lawyers Association's PTO application for a trademark that includes its name and a drawing of Lady Justice. The PTO has suspended Givens' group's second trademark application, which features its name and the acronym ATLA, partly because of the pending lawsuit."