A trademark application filed by law firm Slater & Gordon for its tagline “we win cases like yours” is raising eyebrows over claims the phrase is widely used.
The firm applied last month to trademark the phrase with IP Australia and is currently awaiting consideration of its claim, but opposition is already lining up, with Queensland-based lawyer Nicole Murdoch saying the regulator should bin the application.
“I’ve been saying it for years,” Murdoch, principal of Eagle Gate Lawyers, tells SmartCompany.
“Lawyers say that term, it’s what clients want to know.”
While trademarking the phrase would not prevent other lawyers from using it in conversations with clients, Murdoch, who has worked as a trademark attorney, says she’s worried Slater & Gordon will use its size to bully smaller firms into abandoning the term.
“They will just come after smaller practitioners and try to bully them,” she says.
“There’s an arrogance in saying they should be the ones saying we win cases like yours.
“Smaller traders will just say they don’t want to take on Slater & Gordon.”
Several other lawyers have expressed doubt the application will be approved on social media, saying its more likely a secondary application to trademark the phrase alongside the Slater & Gordon brand will be successful.
Richard Prangell, director of Viridian lawyers, says the use of ‘we win cases like yours’, or variations of it, have been used in the profession for hundreds of years.
“Legal practice is a very old profession, and lawyers of all skill levels have been using some variation of ‘we win cases like yours’ for many hundreds of years,” he tells SmartCompany.
“I would have expected that the discerning practitioners at Slater & Gordon would be aware that a trademark cannot be registered if it is not inherently adapted to distinguish their specific goods or services.”
A Google search for the term ‘we win cases like yours’ returns dozens of results for law firms overseas using the term, however, an exclusive Australian search returns only two other firms using that exact phrase on their own websites.
Those firms did not respond to requests for comment about the trademark request.
A Slater & Gordon spokesperson said the firm “completely rejects” assertions it would bully small firms with the trademark.
“It has long been our campaign tagline and like thousands of businesses, law firms and professional services organisations do with their campaign taglines we are well within our right to protect our intellectual property,” the spokesperson said.
“There is nothing unusual about this and, in fact, a number of law firms have trademarked their campaign taglines. We are not aware of any other law firm that uses ‘we win cases like yours’ as their tagline.”