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Carolina bank sues Truliant over billboards ads
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (5/27/09)--A bank has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against a North Carolina credit union, claiming the credit union is using the bank's registered "Yes you can" service mark on credit union billboards and advertisements. Truliant FCU, a $1.195 billion-asset credit union based in Winston-Salem, had until 5 p.m. Tuesday to file a response to the suit, according to court documents. The suit was filed May 13 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina by attorneys for CommunityONE Bank, based in Asheboro, N.C. In the complaint, CommunityONE said it purchased rights to the "Yes you can" service mark in 1999, when it was doing business as First National Bank and Trust Co. It acquired the federally registered service mark from Crestar Financial Corp., Richmond, Va. In 2007, when the bank changed names, it registered the name change with the trademark assignment, said the complaint. The mark is an extension of the bank's corporate logo and mascot, Jack (likened to a jumping jack) and is used in marketing and customer service campaigns. The complaint alleges that Truliant, a competitor to CommunityONE, posted a billboard advertisement on Interstate 40 in Greensboro near the Route 68 interchange. The ad reads "Yes You Can. Join Truliant!" The complaint says the ad "prominently incorporates CommunityONE's 'Yes you can' service mark, together with the use of a sun logo, which bears a strong resemblance to CommunityONE's 'Jack' logo." The ad also appears on at least one other billboard and "creates a strong likelihood of confusion, and causes customers, potential customers, the public, regulators, and the trade to believe mistakenly that Truliant is affiliated with, connected with, sponsored by, approved by, or otherwise associated with CommunityONE," said the court documents. The suit alleges federal trademark infringement, federal unfair competition, state unfair and deceptive trade practices, and common law trademark infringement and unfair competition. The bank seeks a preliminary injunction preventing further use of the "Yes you can" mark and seeks damages. After Truliant files its response with the court, CommunityONE will be required to file a reply by 5 p.m. EDT June 1. A preliminary injunction hearing is set for June 4 in Winston-Salem.


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