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Members 1st in second suit over M trademark
HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/13/11)--Members 1st FCU, based in Mechanicsburg, Pa., has filed a second trademark infringement lawsuit over the use of its "M" logo. This time the suit is against South Jordan, Utah-based Merrick Bank Corp. The latest suit, filed April 5 in the U.S District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg), seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, damages, and attorneys' fees for "trademark infringement, unfair competition and false designation of origin of goods." According to the complaint, Merrick recently began soliciting credit card customers using the logo in $1.5 billion asset Members 1st's territory. The credit union began using the mark, which incorporates "1st" into the "M" logo, in early 2003. It received registration of the mark from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Jan. 31, 2006, said the complaint. The credit union has "consistently promoted its brand and services using the mark on television, radio, billboards, email, print advertising, public relations, community sponsorships, giveaways and the internet," said the document. It added that market research shows its brand is "well known across its target audience, with 94% of survey respondents associating the mark with Members 1st." "Merrick's use of a virtually identical logo to sell competing products in the same geographic area is likely to cause consumer confusion and is exacerbated by the fact that Merrick's credit card products are identical and are likely to be sold in the same markets, through the same trade channels, and to similar and overlapping customers," said the complaint. The complaint alleges the infringement would cost the credit union sales, "with the bank likely to unfairly gain recognition and sales at Member 1st's expense by benefiting from the reputation, goodwill and recognition already established and embodied in Members 1st's distinct trademark." It also would result in loss of control over its brand reputation and injure Members lst if consumers are dissatisfied with Merrick's products for any reason. In 2009, Members 1st filed a similar suit against a local bank Metro Bank of Harrisburg, which uses a big red M as its symbol. The bank unveiled its logo in June 2009 as part of a conversion of Commerce Bank/Harrisburg to Metro Bank (News Now July 7, 2009). Members 1st and Metro Bank have since settled the suit.


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