Patents: J. Scott Evans

By Arthur O. Murray

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet;/So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,/Retain that dear perfection which he owes/Without that title.

J. Scott Evans heard that passage often as he toured the country for nine years to act as Romeo, Oberon and Iago, among other Shakespearean characters. But he has rejected it. Names — especially when they’re trademarked — have value. Since he switched roles to become a lawyer, he has defended that value.

He had been bitten by the acting bug in 1968, when he was 6 years old and growing up in Waco, Texas, where his father was a political-science professor at Baylor University. But by age 27, “I really just wanted to settle down and have a more stable life.” He decided to become a lawyer. “I thought I was going to be a labor attorney. I only took one course on trademarks.”

That was at the University of Louisville. While there, he clerked at Brown and Williamson Tobacco. After graduation, he went to work for Fruit of the Loom at the apparel maker’s headquarters in Bowling Green, Ky. “After about six months, I was running the trademark department.” Fruit of the Loom also owns the B.V.D., Gitano and ProPlayer brands and makes licensed apparel for Chicago-based Wilson Sporting Goods. In all, Evans supervised about $2.5 billion worth of trademarks. Much of his attention was focused on Europe. “There was a lot of counterfeiting going on at the time in Eastern Europe, Greece and Turkey.”

After about three years, he wanted a change. “I had never worked for a law firm. I was concerned that if I didn’t get experience, I wouldn’t be as marketable.” His father, who had gotten a doctorate at Duke University, recommended moving to the Triangle. He did in 1995 and went to work for Moore & Van Allen in Durham.

After little more than a year there, he wanted to work at a firm that specialized in trademarks and patents. A friend introduced him to Thad Adams, who had an intellectual-property practice in Charlotte. Evans joined the firm and made partner in 1999. Along the way, he served on a committee that crafted international policy — adopted in 1999 by Marina Del Rey, Calif.-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the nonprofit that controls Internet names — to resolve disputes between trademark owners and domain-name owners. “Most trademark cases settle,” he says. “It’s a business case, usually clear-cut.”

Evans is now so firmly established in the field that in October he had a trademark symbol tattooed on his right shoulder blade. He got it at the urging of his son. “I thought it was funny,” he says. As for colleagues and clients, “they don’t get to see it a whole lot.” It’s mainly visible at the gym or pool during his daily workouts.