It's doubtful he's seeking nine figures, but a well-known personal injury attorney is suing his son for starting a law firm with their shared name.
The elder George Sink — whose catchy commercials encourage prospective clients to dial "all nines" to reach his firm at 999-9999 — owns George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers. Based in North Charleston, the firm has 13 offices in South Carolina and Georgia and advertises heavily on TV and radio.
His son, George Sink Jr., worked for the firm until he was fired in February, according to the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Charleston. The younger Sink then started his own business, George Sink II Law Firm in North Charleston.
The elder Sink says his son always preferred to go by his middle name, "Ted" or "Teddy." His lawsuit points to social media accounts of his son using the first name "Ted" and claims that the younger Sink doesn't have the trademark rights to use "George Sink" in connection with his legal services.
The father contends he was "forced to bring suit to protect consumers of legal services" who could be confused or misdirected, according to a statement from his attorneys that refers to his son as "Ted." He's suing for trademark infringement, unfair competition, cybersquatting, unfair trade practice, and dilution.
"Plaintiff's name, reputation, and goodwill are suffering, and have been damaged, as a result of defendant's conduct," the complaint states.
The younger Sink claims it was his father who first introduced him to the legal community as "George Sink," adding that it's the name that appears on his birth certificate.
"Whether trademark law permits a father to take back his son’s name or restrict his right to practice law is an issue we look forward to litigating through the courts," his attorneys said in a statement.
Sink Jr. began working as a marketing employee at his father's firm in 2013, according to the lawsuit. He later got a law degree and started handling client case matters at his father's firm last year.
He branched out on his own in February. A note at the bottom of his website reads: "This firm is not at all associated with George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers or George Sink, Sr. (well, besides the founder of George Sink Law Firm, LLC being the son of and former employee of George Sink, Sr.)."
The lawsuit alleges that Google suspended the elder Sink's business listings due to "overlap in the business names and geographical location." That caused him to lose more than 600 positive Google reviews.
The listing was later restored, but the suit claims George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers hasn't recovered from the temporary suspension.
The elder Sink is asking a judge to stop his son from using the designation George Sink II and to order the cancellation of his son's domain name, georgesinklawfirm.com.