One could argue that win or lose, they’re still a couple of tools.
Mike “The Alabama Hammer” Slocumb is facing a lawsuit from fellow personal injury attorney Jim “The Texas Hammer” Adler, with the latter claiming he nailed down the impactful moniker first.
In a federal lawsuit filed last October but given nationwide attention in the HBO comedy news program “Last Week Tonight” this past Sunday, Adler claims Slocumb’s use of the “Hammer” name is copyright infringement. Adler, a Houston-based attorney with a 53-year legal career and demonstrable use of the name “The Texas Hammer” since the 1990s, complained that Slocumb also recreated one of his ubiquitous television commercials “virtually shot-by-shot and line-by-line.”
Adler has spent $100 million on advertising since 2000, the complaint states, airing more than 200,000 TV commercials each year in three of Texas’ largest markets. One, entitled “We Stand Tough,” depicts Adler holding a sledgehammer in the road, standing his ground against an oncoming 18-wheeler. The complaint notes the commercial “employs pugnacious dialogue spoken in a defiant tone” and “hammer-related imagery.”
For an unspecified amount of time, Slocumb ran a nearly identical commercial, a “ruse” the plaintiff believes is “a brazen bid to confuse and deceive consumers.” Together with his use of the “Hammer” name, Adler argues Slocumb is misappropriating his likeness “to illicitly benefit from Adler’s public reputation and [exploit] Adler’s famous trademarks.”
Slocumb’s law practice is based in Lee County Alabama, but has offices in Colorado, Maryland, Mississippi, Texas, West Virginia, and Washington D.C., where he also uses the moniker “The D.C. Hammer.” Adler alleges he sent a cease-and-desist to Slocumb in March 2020, but Slocumb only responded by opening his first offices in the state of Texas. Adler also claims Slocumb purchased Google keywords using the “Hammer” name and “push-to-call” advertising to capture as much as 40 percent of Adler’s potential clients.
In an answer and counterclaim filed in June, Slocumb claims he stopped airing his own “Tough” commercial after receiving Adler’s letter, and during his expansion into Texas, never promoted himself using the “Hammer” marks. Slocumb admitted his firm did purchase keywords, but “ceased purchasing such keywords before this lawsuit was filed.”
Slocumb denies his actions “mislead or confuse customers in any way” and argues Adler’s commercial “constitutes scénes-á-faire that is not eligible for copyright protection.” Slocumb said there is no infringement or confusion with the marks, “but should the court determine there is confusion, it is in fact Adler who infringed on the trademarks.”
It’s not the first time Adler has sued to protect his image. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently remanded a case Adler brought against Lauren Von McNeil, owner of Texas-based Accident Injury Legal Center. Similar to Slocumb, Adler claimed McNeil also purchased keywords from Google similar to those employed by Adler, and purchased a “click-to-call” ad based on the keywords to redirect traffic from his law firm.
Representatives for neither attorney responded to requests for comment on this story.