CHARLESTON, S.C. (WIS) - A judge has barred George Sink Jr. from using the family name to promote his venture into the family business, according to a federal ruling last Friday.
George Sink Sr. is known for suing others in personal injury cases, but filed a civil suit against his son, George "Ted" Sink Jr., to prevent him from using the family name to start his law firm and won.
A Fourth Circuit judge issued a temporary restraining order that stops Sink Jr. from using the family name to advertise his personal injury firm on its website, in email, and on social media.
“George Sink Jr. is of course not barred from practicing law under his birth name, but in advertising for his legal services he must do more to differentiate between him and plaintiff,” writes Judge David Norton. “The mere fact that it is George Sink Jr.’s given name does not automatically shield him from allegations of infringement.”
The court documents note the similarities in the advertisements Sink’s son was using and said customers might and in some cases did get confused about which Sink law firm they were dealing coordinating with. “The logos that each party uses on their respective law firm websites, the name GEORGE SINK is more prominent than the auxiliary words,” writes Norton.
George Sink PA Injury Lawyers is known around South Carolina for his jingle-filled commercials and massive billboards encouraging people to call his firm after a wreck.
According to the suit, Sink Jr. began working for his father as a lawyer March of last year and was no longer employed by the firm in February. Sink Jr. a Yale University graduate , went on to form his own firm using the family name, hoping to call it George Sink II Law Firm, the George Sink Law Firm or the Southern Legal Association. His father did not seem to approve.
In the suit, Sink Sr. says the company name is "famous" around South Carolina and Georgia. He also notes in the document that the business' name is trademarked, and by using a similar name, his son is committing trademark infringement and creating unfair competition. According to the lawsuit, Sink Jr.'s firm was hurting his father’s online reviews and prominence on search websites.
In the lawsuit, Sink Sr. alleges that his son has always preferred the nickname "Ted," and by going by the same name as his father, he is confusing customers.
When this case was first filed in May, George Sink Sr.'s lawyer told WIS that the firm does not comment on ongoing cases, but that, "The goal is not to keep “Ted” Sink from practicing law. He’s been a lawyer for two and one-half years, and we wish him well with his new law firm. However, when consumers look for George Sink PA Injury Lawyers®, they must be confident they will find the firm they seek."
In response, at the time, George Sink Jr’s lawyers told WIS Sink Jr.’s name, “is the name that appears on his birth certificate, driver’s license, Yale undergraduate degree and on his law degree, as well as on his licenses to practice law in South Carolina and Georgia.
It was George Sink, Sr. who first introduced George Sink, Jr. to the legal community as George Sink.”