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CUs involved in service mark infringement lawsuit
LOS ANGELES (7/13/11)--Two Los Angeles area credit unions with similar names and overlapping fields of membership in the educational industry are involved in a lawsuit alleging service mark infringement and unfair competition. Schools FCU, a $104 million asset credit union based in Rancho Dominguez, Calif., filed the lawsuit Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles against the $8 billion asset, Santa Ana-based SchoolsFirst FCU. The smaller credit union is seeking damages and an injunction to stop SchoolsFirst FCU from using its name, logo and Internet domain name. Schools FCU--formerly called Los Angeles Schools FCU--changed its name to Schools FCU on April 14, 2005, and has used its service mark and logo in the its marketing promotions and advertisements in the area since then, said the complaint. SchoolsFirst FCU--the former Orange County Teachers FCU--changed its name on April 14, 2008. The suit alleges that as a "direct competitor" of Schools FCU, the larger credit union "intentionally adopted" and used a new name that "is confusingly similar to and infringes" on the name of Schools FCU. The complaint also alleges that the larger credit union did not inform the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office of the smaller credit union's "prior and superior rights" in the service mark. "Defendant's intentional use of a name so similar to Plaintiff's Service Mark has already caused substantial customer confusion as to the origin, affiliation, or sponsorship of the defendant's services and is likely to cause such consumer confusion," said the complaint, which alleged Schools FCU also suffered "actual damages."


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