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Editor's note, October 8, 2018: This article originally stated that "Jay K. Joshi" was The Real Dr. Joshi. However, Jay K. Joshi is the impostor, according to the lawsuit. The article has since been corrected.
Will the real Dr. Joshi please stand up?
In an odd case of misappropriated identity, "The Real Dr. Joshi" is suing the imitator Dr. Joshi, born Jay K. Joshi, in Illinois federal court. The Real Dr. Joshi claims the imitator "stole" his reputation by having the same name, stealing The Real Dr. Joshi's reviews, and giving interviews to journalists who believed the were contacting The Real Dr. Joshi.
The suit alleges that the imitator then capitalized off of that reputation by opening a "pill mill," and alleges unjust enrichment and violation of federal and state laws governing trade name dilution, unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.
The imitator pleaded guilty in July 2018 to illegally distributing opioid medications. But did he really intend to imitate The Real Dr. Joshi? According to the complaint, "The imitator Joshi began marketing himself as a pain specialist using the real Dr. Joshi's credentials and reviews," the complaint states. "The imitator Joshi gave interviews to journalists who were trying to get in touch with, and then thought they were speaking with the real Dr. Joshi. The imitator Joshi would intentionally conceal, suppress, and omit the material fact that he was in fact not the real Dr. Joshi and not a pain medicine specialist."
To prevail, the plaintiff will have to prove intentional deception. As Notre Dame law professor Mark McKenna put it, "If there's a doctor who has the same name and offers similar services, and that doctor turns out to be a bad actor, there's not a lot trademark law can do about that because you get to use your name," he said.
Sometimes people have the same names, and are pretty similar, such as John Adams and John Quincy Adams, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Then there's Isiah Thomas, the former Detroit Pistons basketball player known for his small stature, and Isaiah Thomas, the Denver Nuggets basketball player with the same stature. And then there are times that people with similar names are very different, such as Madonna and Madonna, the mother of Jesus -- those two are quite dissimilar! And who knows how many Michael Jacksons there are!
For the sake of The Real Dr. Joshi, hopefully with the imitator behind bars, he can start to rehabilitate his reputation.
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