A dispute between two Manchester law firms has ended with a modest payout to two clients whose case studies were used on a firm’s website. The argument began when a solicitor moved from Geoffrey Miller to Olliers, which then featured on its site some motoring cases she had worked on.
Geoffrey Miller claimed that some of the clients whose cases were highlighted had not been approached by Olliers for permission. Three clients threatened legal action, as did the firm itself.Jeanette Miller, senior partner at Geoffrey Miller, said: ‘Unfortunately, being a leading firm in motoring law sometimes has its disadvantages. Other firms seeking to copy the Geoffrey Miller model pop up all the time, but most have the good sense to use their own cases as evidence of their expertise.’
Olliers managing partner Matthew Claughton said it had paid ‘nominal compensation’ to two of the clients, together with a contribution towards their legal costs, without any admission of liability. ‘Our department continues to thrive and no advantage was gained by the use of the case studies,’ he said. ‘With hindsight it would have been more sensible to use our own case studies exclusively as they certainly reflect the extensive experience of the firm in the last 20 years.’
At Miller’s request, Olliers also made a donation to the Stroke Association.
Miller said: ‘The matter was pursued on principle, which was why we eventually settled for a charitable donation as opposed to taking it further through the courts.’
Meanwhile, Geoffrey Miller has also pounced on a claims management company that started to use ‘pay-per-click’ advertising keywords and phrases that the firm had trademarked.
The firm said it has the term ‘motor-offence’ and others registered as trademarks and was able to prove to Yahoo! UK that they were being used by an unauthorised competitor. As a result Yahoo! removed the unauthorised user’s adverts.
Miller said: ‘It pays to be vigilant. It is quite easy to overlook things like search terms, but they are now as important as any other form of intellectual property.’