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Lawyer Training Group Alleges Trademark Infringement After Split

May 14, 2020, 7:14 PM

A split between the founder and board of the Trial Lawyers College has resulted in a suit accusing founder Gerald L. Spence and others of infringing the organization’s trademarks and taking its mailing list to set up a competing program.

The college is a trial training institute for attorneys. The U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming should issue a temporary restraining order against Spence, the other individual defendants, and the new entity, Gerry Spences Trial Lawyers College at Thunderhead Ranch, TLC says in its complaint filed Wednesday.

The defendants should be kept from infringing TLC’s trademarks, engaging in false advertising or unfair competition, or misusing the information in TLC’s database, the complaint says.

TLC operated at the Thunderhead Ranch in Dubois, Wyo., from its inception in 1994 until May 8, 2020, according to the complaint. It trained attorneys for “the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned,” it says. Spence’s prominent role in TLC and the Thunderhead Ranch location, which TLC leased from a foundation of Spence’s, were well-known in the legal community, TLC alleges.

The board’s refusal to use TLC funds for a multimillion-dollar library honoring Gerry Spence led to a split, according to the complaint. Then Spence and the others allegedly began infringing the trademarked name and logo. They also allegedly accessed the database without authorization.

Causes of Action: Trademark infringement, unfair competition, computer fraud and abuse, misappropriation of trade secrets.

Relief: Declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and damages.

Response: An attorney named as representing Spence and other defendants in documents attached to the complaint didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attorneys: Williams, Porter, Day, & Neville PC and Phelps Dunbar LLC represent TLC.

The case is Trial Lawyers College v. Gerry Spences Trial Lawyers College at Thunderhead Ranch, D. Wyo., No. 1:20-cv-00080, complaint 5/13/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Martina Barash in Washington at mbarash@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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