Interpublic sued Brian Tierney on Nov. 26 for an injunction to stop the Philadelphia PR pro from using the “Tierney name” in his PR and marketing endeavors.
IPG, which bought Tierney Communications in 1998, said Tierney sold with his agency the rights to the name “Brian Tierney” for use in a business related to PR, marketing or advertising. The marketing conglomerate said Tierney also agreed not use any derivation of his name for such a business, an agreement which, IPG says, he is violating.
Tierney, who returned to PR in 2010 after a three-year stint leading Philadelphia Media Holdings, runs Brian Communications Group. IPG says that firm is identified as “A Brian Tierney Company” in violation of his sale agreement.
IPG, which says a cease-and-desist letter went unheeded, also cited as one example in its complaint that Tierney purchased briantierney.com and directs the domain to his PR firm’s site. “Defendants’ intent to confuse clients and prospective clients of [Tierney Communications] … is apparent,” reads the complaint.
Debra Griffin, executive VP and CFO of Tierney Communications, signed the complaint from IPG, which hired the Philadelphia law firm Deeb, Blum, Murphy, Frishberg & Markovich.
Dilworth Paxson represents Tierney. Larry McMichael, chairman of the firm's litigation department, said the case will be “vigorously defended.” He told O'Dwyer's that Tierney's camp was surprised somewhat by the suit because there had been talks with IPG about an amicable solution.
Tierney left IPG in 2002. His current venture, which includes the digital shop Realtime Media as well as Brian Communications Group, staffed about 25 as it got rolling in 2010.