First there was First Bank McKinney, whose first concern was in not playing second fiddle to a newcomer who at first said it wouldn't call itself First Bank Texas.

Banks are obsessed with the word "first" and will do almost anything to get it at the front of their names - and to keep it out of the names of competitors. In the central Texas town of McKinney, this obsession landed a St. Louis holding company in court to answer charges of trademark infringement.

Similar legal disputes have occurred over the "First Bank" name in Colorado and Nebraska.

According to Dallas lawyer Robert Samra, who is representing three-year- old First Bank McKinney, it has built up a solid business around the name.

But this year, McKinney-based BancTexas was bought by St. Louis-based First Banks Inc.

Mr. Samra said BancTexas officials assured First Bank McKinney executives at the time that they wouldn't be changing the name. But BancTexas officials, who could not be reached for comment, apparently later changed their minds. This spring they notified First Bank McKinney's chief executive, David Brooks, that they planned to change the name to First Bank Texas.

First Bank McKinney filed suit, and last week the two parties agreed to a temporary restraining order until the case can be heard before a Texas judge.

"There are bound to be more cases like this one across the country as more out-of-state banks purchase smaller banks," Mr. Samra said.

In Texas alone, there are six independent banks with "First Bank" in their names.


The dressing down of the banking industry continues.

Bank of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City extended its casual business attire policy from just Friday to every day of the week. The policy extends to all employees, who must use their better judgment as to how much to dress up. No jeans allowed.

Bank of Oklahoma officials say the move was prompted by practicality. Most of its customers (the bank tries to cater to small to midsize businesses) have already gone casual. The bank even found a CRA angle: potential customers with low incomes are less intimidated by a banker in Dockers than a banker in tweed.


Chicago's St. Paul Bancorp, a frequent subject of takeover rumors, saw its stock jump again after a new scuttlebutt from CNBC financial correspondent Dan Dorfman.

After Mr. Dorfman relayed rumors last Tuesday on the cable channel that St. Paul might be acquired for $32 per share by LaSalle National Corp., St. Paul's stock reached a 52-week high last Friday of $25.62, up from $22.87 at the beginning of the week.

St. Paul chairman and chief executive, Joseph C. Scully, said the company does not comment on rumors. "We've always felt like we operate this business for the long run," Mr. Scully said. "You can get detoured by spending much attention" on rumors.

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