Already Suing CU Over Name, Airline Dislikes New Choice

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The credit union formerly known as NWA FCU, has officially changed its name to Wings Financial FCU. But a move that should have made the CU's original sponsor, Northwest Airlines, happy, as the airline is in the middle of suing the credit union over use of the NWA name, hasn't had that effect.

It seems Northwest Airlines doesn't like the CU's new name, either. "During the pendency of the litigation we learned that they intended to use 'Wings' which we consider to be one of many marks owned by Northwest," said Northwest Spokesperson Kurt Ebenhoch. "We have asked the court to order them to stop using both 'NWA' and 'Wings.' As well as other marks and images, and we hope the outcome of our lawsuit will be to prevent their use."

But even if Northwest had approved of the CU's decision to adopt the Wings Financial name, it still would not have satisfied the airline's desire to see the credit union stop using the NWA name.

"We filed our lawsuit to stop Northwest Airlines Federal Employees Credit Union from continuing to use any and all marks owned by Northwest Airlines," Ebenhoch said. And while the CU has changed its name, it still intends to continue using the NWA name and signage at its branches located on Northwest premises.

The credit union's response? "Well...it is what it is," said WFFCU Spokesman John Wagner. "You have to chuckle at the absurdity."

The credit union, which has been sparring with its primary sponsor ever since the airline asked the credit union to pay a licensing fee for the use of the NWA name, adopted the Wings name earlier this year on a divisional basis after converting to a TIPS charter to serve other airlines' employees, in addition to Northwest employees. But at that time, the CU opted to keep the NWA name because the vast majority of its membership still had ties to Northwest and therefore to the NWA name.

"The more we thought about it, and in talking with other [airlines' employees now eligible for membership], we determined that the Wings name is more broadly accepted," Wagner explained. "We still intend to have NWA on some facilities on a limited basis. The lawsuit over the NWA name really didn't enter into this decision."

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