CUNA Wins Suit; New Ads Debut

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A federal judge last week dismissed a trademark infringement lawsuit brought against the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and its national Branding Campaign by a Kansas banking company.

The court ruled at the same time CUNA was rolling out its latest advertising program as part of the Branding Campaign built around the theme, "Switch to a Credit Union."

The judge in U.S. district court in Kansas City entered an order dismissing the trademark infringement case that Gold Banc Corp. of Leawood, Kansas, had filed against CUNA over the brand slogan, "America's Credit Unions: Where People are Worth More than Money."

Gold Banc filed suit against CUNA in 2001 claiming the brand slogan was a trademark infringement of Gold Banc's slogan, "More Than Money." CUNA had argued the credit union brand slogan was distinct and would not cause marketplace confusion, further pointing out CUNA's outside trademark attorney as well as the U.S. Patent and Trademark office had reviewed and raised no objection to the brand slogan.

Gold Banc agreed to the dismissal of the case with prejudice, meaning that it has permanently abandoned claims against the National CU Brand slogan. Gold Banc and CUNA earlier had agreed to file a request with a court that the case be dismissed. Gold Banc has separately been involved in allegations that its former CEO misappropriated $2.5 million in bank funds.

"The judge's order means total victory for the National Credit Union Brand Campaign," said CUNA General Counsel Eric Richard. "Credit unions are free to use the brand mark without fear of further harassment from Gold Banc and our side of the case has been completely vindicated, as we had expected from the outset."

CUNA said the "Switch to a Credit Union" theme will continue to "emphasize the Brand Campaign's trust-oriented message of credit unions as not-for-profit financial institutions 'where people are worth more than money.'" The ads are available to any CUNA-affiliated CU or league.

The new ads consist of the three print ads, plus outdoor billboard versions, and three 30-second radio spots. All can be tagged to the sponsoring CU's name. The new ads were designed for CUNA by the Malahat Group International. For info: 800-356-9655 x6764.

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