Clay Tillack brings an unusually diverse skill set to his practice. While he initially concentrated his practice on commercial litigation, once he discovered intellectual property and franchise law he made them the substantive focus of his work. This experience mix allows Clay to provide clients with insights that others might miss in regard to both the transactional and litigation aspects of high-stakes matters. His clients include individuals, private and public organizations and real estate, restaurant and hospitality franchisors.

Clay’s clients benefit from his deep well of experience and knowledge. For example, in the field of trademarks, Clay provides nuanced counseling when clients consider adopting a new mark, helping them prosecute the mark to registration. Aware of the litigation threat and opportunities posed by the intellectual property a client has chosen to adopt, Clay can take the same trademark he registered and then protect it against misuse. And when others claim that the client’s use of a mark infringes their own trademarks, Clay prepares the response best suited to his client’s needs.

Singularly focused on his clients’ needs, Clay constantly asks himself, “Am I getting this right for them?” Clay’s clients place their trust in him because he knows he needs to re-earn it with every new assignment.  

  • Experience

    • For over 18 years, Clay has represented one of the world’s most famous athletes on issues relating to his intellectual property, including his trademarks and his right of publicity. In addition to managing the client’s trademark portfolio, Clay’s representation has included prosecuting federal court claims for the misuse of trademarks and publicity rights in advertising.
    • Clay led the rebranding of one of the country’s largest foodservice providers, which included the adoption and registration of a new company name, logo and trademarks for the goods and services provided by the client.
    • Clay represented a major motion picture studio in its successful efforts to stop the unauthorized use of iconic images from two of the most famous movies and one of the most famous cartoon duos in history.
    • When the same studio faced a copyright claim arising out of the alleged infringement of a copyright in a tattoo used on a movie character’s face, Clay launched a successful defense.
    • Clay arbitrated claims made against a client, a major franchisor in the field of real estate services, arising out a dispute over key provisions in its license agreement.
    • Clay manages numerous trademark portfolios of private and public organizations in a wide variety of industries.
    • Working with the ACLU on behalf of a gay couple, obtained a ground breaking Order from the Illinois Human Rights Commission, which adopted the report and recommendations of an administrative law judge finding that the Illinois Human Rights Act was violated when our clients were denied equal access to a bed and breakfast to celebrate their civil union.
  • Credentials


    • University of Texas School of Law, J.D., 1982, with honors
    • Dartmouth College, B.A., English, 1979

    Bar Admissions

    • Illinois
    • Nevada
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
    • U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
    • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar)
    • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

        Professional Memberships

        • American Bar Association, Forum on Franchising, Diversity Caucus
        • Chicago Bar Association
        • International Trademark Association, Schiff Hardin Member Designee
      • Insights

        News Release

        2020 Best Lawyers in America Lists Recognizes 63 Attorneys, Three “Lawyers of the Year”

        Schiff Hardin LLP is pleased to announce that 63 attorneys have been included in the 2020 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, with three attorneys also being named a “Lawyer of the Year” in their respective areas of practice.

        News Release

        Managing IP Recognizes Schiff Hardin Among IP Stars for Seventh Year

        Schiff Hardin is pleased to announce that the firm has been ranked as ‘Recommended’ by Managing Intellectual Property magazine in the Illinois IP Stars Patent Contentious category, which includes dispute resolution work, litigation and enforcement, as well as Hatch-Waxman, International Trade Commission, and multinational litigation work.

        News Release

        Schiff Earns “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ” Accolade for Nearly a Decade

        Schiff Hardin LLP announced today that the firm has earned a perfect 100 percent score on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s 2019 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), along with the distinction as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” for nine years running.

        News Release

        2019 Leading Lawyers Lists Recognize 95 Schiff Attorneys

        Schiff Hardin LLP is pleased to have 95 attorneys named to the 2019 Leading Lawyers list.

        News Release

        61 Schiff Attorneys Named to 2019 Best Lawyers in America List and Six Recognized as “Lawyer of the Year”

        Schiff Hardin is pleased to announce that 61 attorneys have been included in the 2019 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, as well as six who were named a “Lawyer of the Year” in their respective areas of practice.

        News Release

        Schiff Hardin Recognized Among Managing Intellectual Property IP Stars

        Schiff Hardin has been ranked as ‘Recommended’ by Managing Intellectual Property magazine in the Illinois IP Stars Patent Contentious category.

        News Release

        95 Schiff Hardin Lawyers Named to 2018 Leading Lawyers Lists

        Ninety-six Schiff Hardin lawyers have been named to the 2018 Leading Lawyers lists for Illinois and Michigan.

        News Release

        Schiff Hardin Earns 100 Percent Score for LGBTQ Workplace Equality for Eight Years in a Row on HRC’s 2018 Corporate Equality Index

        Schiff Hardin LLP announced today that for the eighth consecutive year, the firm earned a perfect 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s 2018 Corporate Equality Index (CEI).

        In The News
        News Release

        Schiff Hardin Secures LGBT Victory for Civil Unions in Illinois

        Schiff Hardin played a pivotal role in an Illinois Court of Appeals dismissal of an appeal by bed and breakfast owners seeking to justify their discrimination by religious beliefs against a gay couple interested in using the facility for a civil union ceremony.

        Other Publications

        • “Annual Franchise and Distribution Law Developments 2017,” (Clay Tillack, co-author) ABA Forum on Franchising (2017)

        Speeches & Presentations

        • “Annual Franchise and Distribution Law Developments,” 40th Annual Forum on Franchising, American Bar Association, Palm Desert, CA. (Oct. 18-21, 2017)
        • “Your Ad Here: The Perils And Rewards Of Advertising In Social Media,” 38th Annual Forum on Franchising, American Bar Association, New Orleans, LA. (Oct. 14-16, 2015)
        • "Hot Topics in Ethics in the Practice of Franchise Law," 36th Annual Forum on Franchising, American Bar Association, Orlando, Fla. (Oct. 16-18, 2013)
        • "Franchising and ADR," (panelist) The Chicago Bar Association, CLE Seminar, Chicago, Ill. (Jun. 26, 2012)
        • "The Unauthorized Use of Corporate and Individual Identities in Advertising: Publicity and Privacy Rights in a Competitive Marketplace," American Bar Association 34th Annual Forum on Franchising, Baltimore, Md. (Oct. 20, 2011)
      • Citizenship

        Civic and Charitable Memberships

        Clay is the Chair of Schiff Hardin’s LGBT Diversity Subcommittee. In that role, he is responsible for leading the firm’s outreach efforts to LGBT organizations and their members in the cities in which the firm has offices. Clay works with firm and practice group management and with the firm's diversity, recruiting and professional personnel committees to coordinate the firm's approach to LGBT professional development, staffing and work issues.


        A member of Schiff Hardin’s Law Student Recruitment Committee, Clay served as the Co¬Chair of Schiff’s 2014 and Chair of the 2015 Summer Associate program. He will once again serve as Chair of the summer program in 2016.


        He also is a member of the Equality Illinois Board of Directors, on which he serves as Secretary and member of the Executive Committee.

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      Schiff Hardin secures $2.6M win for Warner Bros.

      The Eighth Circuit affirmed a $2.57 million damages award and permanent injunction in favor of Warner Bros., protecting its copyrights and trademarks in The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, and Tom & Jerry cartoons. MORE