Members 1st FCU Back In Court To Challenge New Bank Assault

Register now

HARRISBURG, Penn. — Members 1st FCU, fresh off a trademark infringement claim with a local bank, filed a new suit Friday against Utah's Merrick Bank, which recently began soliciting credit cards in the credit union's local market using an identical "M" trademark incorporating the numeral "1."

The $2 billion credit union says the entry into its market by Merrick Bank, the target of numerous customer complaints in its home state, poses a threat to its own reputation because area consumers will mistake the bank's solicitation for its own. Members 1st is especially concerned about a hit to its reputation because Merrick Bank has been cited by the Better Business Bureau of Southern Utah and an online website ripoffreport.com for a proliferation of consumer complaints about its credit cards, which have even spawned a website called merrickbanksucks.com.

"Merrick's use of a confusingly similar trademark in connection with its products is a willful attempt to trade upon the goodwill that Members 1st had developed in its trademark through its many years of use," says the suit.

The new suit comes just weeks after Members 1st, based in nearby Mechanicsburg, settled a separate trademark suit with local Metro Bank, which agreed to change the color of its "M" logo from the same red as the credit union's trademarked "M."

The credit union says it has a valid trademark on its red-letter "M" affixed on all credit union materials, statements, ads and community promotions that it received from the U.S. Office of Patent and Trademarks in 2006. Its lawyers sent Merrick Bank a letter last month asking that the $1.5 billion bank stop using the similar "M" but have yet to receive a response, according to the suit.

Members 1st is asking the court for the extraordinary remedy of ordering Merrick Bank to recall and destroy all credit and debit cards and promotional material in the local market using the "M."

Merrick Bank officials were not immediately available for comment.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
MORE FROM AMERICAN BANKER