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Despite fall from grace, one-time firm's name still valued

A recent article in Accounting Today recounts the story of a one-time "Big-Five" member of the world's largest accounting firms, most notably its collapse in the wake of unprecedented corporate scandals in the early 2000s.

Since then, Arthur Andersen, while not formally dissolved, has withered away and presently exists in only skeletal form.

Principals of two business entities now say that they are the guardians of its resurgent future, possessing all legal rights to its trademarks, logos and other identifying intellectual property.

Understandably, that has bred confusion, as well as legal questions and challenges. Both sides cannot be right and prevail in the matter.

Which has the superior claim?

A group operating out of France and calling itself Arthur Andersen says that it does. Its self-professed managing partner states that the firm will be a reconstituted global entity from March 1 of this year, with multiple offices on five continents. That individual states that his company is the sole legal holder all the Andersen "trademarks, logos, visuals and slogans at a global level," and will not hesitate to vigorously defend its rights.

His claim is flatly derided by the chief executive officer of a company called Andersen Tax, which has existed under that name since 2014. Andersen Tax was founded by myriad ex-Arthur Andersen partners, who say that they bought all the rights to the Andersen brand across the world and already operate in nearly 60 locations. They claim the French company's claims are bogus and that its stance serves to tarnish Andersen Tax by undermining the considerable efforts it has made to reinvigorate and rebrand the Andersen-linked intellectual property in a positive way.

Andersen filed a trademark infringement complaint in France last year. The group calling itself Arthur Andersen has until March 17 to respond.

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