Lawyers at war over use of the name College of Law

It’s a lawyers’ picnic in Sydney with a university and postgraduate facility at legal loggerheads over the use of the name College of Law, in a case which offers some guidance to businesses on trademarking their name.

Since 1974, the College of Law in Sydney has offered postgraduate training to law students to enable them to obtain their certification to work as lawyers, establishing an Australia-wide reputation in the process.

However, in 2005 the Australian National University opened a law faculty called the ANU College of Law, prompting the College of Law in Sydney to issue proceedings in the Federal Court claiming trademark infringement, misleading and deceptive conduct and passing off.

The ANU says the College of Law’s trademark should never have been granted and the court should cancel it as there is nothing distinctive about the term “college of law” and it is a generic term which has been used by universities as far back as 1878.

Apart from its academic courses, ANU is among those universities that also offer practical legal training for graduates. In its statement of claim, the Sydney-based provider says it has been trading as “The College of Law” since 1974.

Christine Simmons, spokesperson for the College of Law, told SmartCompany the proceedings in the Federal Court were based on allegations of an infringement of the trademarks held by the College of Law by ANU.

“The College is seeking various orders from the court, including injunctions restraining the university from the using the name ‘ANU College of Law’,” Simmons said.

Tegan Dolstra, spokesperson for ANU, said as the case is currently before the court the university was unable to comment.

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