Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Lawyer's general quality claims are puffing

Conrad v. Russell, 2011 WL 3877000 (W.D. Wis.)

Conrad, pro se, alleged that Russell falsely advertised her legal services under the Lanham Act. The court dismissed the complaint because Conrad didn’t sufficiently allege false statements of fact; she complained about misrepresentations of quality, but the statements she identified weren’t actionable. A statement that a firm “specializes” in certain areas of law, for example, doesn’t promise results or a particular level of quality. Statements that a firm’s lawyers "provide thoughtful, thorough counsel in copyright, trademark and digital business law," "tak[e] the time for client education" and are "dedicated to efficiency" were mere puffery. Alleged omissions (failure to explain Conrad’s right of publicity and failure to list courts in which defendants were admitted) were not actionable because Conrad didn’t explain why the omissions were misleading.

Moreover, Conrad didn't have Lanham Act standing, since she was a customer and not a competitor.

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