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Taylor & Taylor Sues a Rival: Taylor & Taylor

4 min read

Tasha and Andy Taylor are fighting for their name.

The husband-and-wife lawyers operate the Taylor & Taylor law firm of Little Rock and sued a Benton law firm with the same name in an attempt to get it to stop using the name and similar logo.

The Benton Taylor & Taylor is run by the father-and-son team of Gregory D. Taylor and Chad Taylor, according to the lawsuit filed by the Little Rock Taylor firm on June 5 in Pulaski County Circuit Court, though Greg Taylor said his son recently took another job.

Using the same name “has caused havoc for my client, the Little Rock version,” said attorney Mark Henry of the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock. “We have insurance adjusters calling and sending money to my clients, which should really be the other firm, and vice versa, we think.”

The Little Rock Taylors’ clients have contacted the wrong firm “multiple times,” Henry said in the filing.

Adding to the problems, Greg Taylor’s law license was suspended April 17 for failure to pay $200 in annual dues owed to the Clerk of the Arkansas Supreme Court, according to the clerk’s website. With late fees, the amount owed is $500.

Greg Taylor said in an email to Arkansas Business on Wednesday that the suspension “was an oversight on payment of annual dues which is now corrected.” But as of Thursday morning, his law license remained suspended, according to Stark Ligon, executive director of the Supreme Court Office of Professional Conduct.

Greg Taylor said in the email that “I have never had my license suspended, nor have I been reprimanded or cautioned for any performance or ethical violation.”

Chad Taylor’s law license also was suspended for nonpayment of dues on April 17, but it was reinstated on April 27.

Greg Taylor said that the timing of the lawsuit is “interesting since my son recently left the firm and started working with [Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge W. Michael] Reif. So, the name will not be used anymore and the process had already begun to change things over.”

The Little Rock Taylor firm has five attorneys and its practice areas include personal injury, family law and appeals. It has advertised itself as “Taylor & Taylor” for nearly a decade.

In 2016, the Benton law firm started using “a virtually identical ‘Taylor & Taylor’ name, design, and branding,” the suit said. “There can be no doubt that Defendants used Plaintiff’s branding as a template.”

The Little Rock Taylor firm insisted that the Benton Taylor firm change its business name to avoid confusion, but it did not, the lawsuit said.

The Little Rock firm sued the Benton practice, alleging trademark and trade name infringement. It asked a judge for a permanent injunction to prevent the Benton firm from using “Taylor & Taylor.”

Greg Taylor said in an email that he couldn’t comment on the suit because he hadn’t seen it. “But I will say that we are a small town father and son law firm with the last name of Taylor, which cannot be trademarked under Arkansas law.”

Henry, the Little Rock Taylors’ attorney, disagreed in court filings. “Arkansas law is clear that an individual does not have an absolute right to use his own name as the name of a business ‘because it may become a trade name subject to the rule of priority in order to prevent deception of the public,’” he wrote.

Law Professor Ira Nathenson, who reviewed the case for Arkansas Business, said he thinks the Little Rock Taylors will win. “The real issue is how broad of an injunction can the plaintiffs hope to get,” said Nathenson, who teaches trademark and branding law at St. Thomas University School of Law of Miami Gardens, Florida.

He said trademark cases involving last names involve balancing two societal goals.

“The first is allowing people to truthfully use their actual name in business versus a conflicting goal, which is protecting consumers from confusion or deception,” Nathenson said.

He said the Benton Taylor & Taylor firm will likely have to change the name to use the full names of the attorneys or initials. It will also probably be required to change the font and styling of its logo, he said.

“They may have to use a disclaimer … to make clear that they’re different,” Nathenson said.

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