The San Francisco banking company said Tuesday that it is buying back rights to its name that have been licensed for more than 30 years to a protective security firm.

Wells Fargo's history is tied up with the Wild West, the Pony Express, and the California gold rush. The licensee, Borg-Warner Security Corp., played off that image by marketing armed-guard services and investigative and security consulting under the Wells Fargo moniker.

The agreement, which ends a 1979 licensing agreement, calls for Borg- Warner to stop using Wells Fargo's trademark, service mark, and trade name by March 31, 2001.

"This agreement reunifies the trademark rights to our founding name - a name customers have associated for almost 150 years with speed, convenience, security, trust, and dependability," said Cindy Gray, executive vice president of corporate marketing for Wells Fargo.

"At the time of the original license agreement, Wells Fargo was a California bank operating principally in Northern California. With the recent merger of equals involving Norwest Corp., Wells Fargo has become a national financial services organization, and we want to avoid any confusion for our customers in all our markets."

Wells Fargo said it would reimburse Borg-Warner for the costs of changing and repositioning the names of its businesses under its new parent company name, Burns International Services Corp.

At the time of the 1979 license, Borg-Warner owned Baker Industries, which obtained rights to the Wells Fargo name in 1966. Baker Industries operated armored cars, guard service, and security alarms businesses under the Wells Fargo banner.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.