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Red River FCU Sued for Trademark Infringement.

Byline: Tina Orem

Louisiana-based Red River Bank is suing Texas-based Red River Employees Federal Credit Union for trademark infringement and unfair competition, according to a complaint filed in Louisiana District Court.

The dispute revolves around the credit union's October acquisition of branches of Shreveport Federal Credit Union, which the NCUA conserved in April 2017 and then liquidated on October 2. The purchase included branches in Caddo, Bossier, Morehouse and Lincoln parishes in Louisiana and two counties in Mississippi. According to the complaint, the credit union's primary market before the branch acquisition was in and around Texarkana, Texas, and Texarkana, Arkansas; after the acquisition of the Shreveport Federal Credit Union branches, it moved into Louisiana and Mississippi.

Those additional branches are too close for comfort, according to bank. After the credit union purchased the branches, it began targeting members and potential members on the bank's Louisiana turf, it alleged.

"Prior to October 2, 2017, the credit union and RRB coexisted in their respective trade areas without generating any substantial confusion among their members, customers, or the general public," it alleged in the complaint.

Now, the bank said, Red River Employees Federal Credit Union is a direct competitor and its services overlap with the services Red River Bank offers. The credit union's name and logo likely cause confusion for customers in Louisiana and Mississippi -- particularly in Bossier and Caddo parishes, it claimed. Bossier and Caddo parishes include the city of Shreveport, which according to the Census is home to about 200,000 people.

"RRB has received numerous inquiries from members of Shreveport Federal Credit Union and the community at large regarding their belief that RRB has taken over Shreveport Federal Credit Union," the complaint noted.

Red River Bank asked the court to make Red River Employees Federal Credit Union stop using its logo, as well as stop using the names Red River Employees Federal Credit Union or Red River Credit Union outside its original market area. It also asked for damages.

"The credit union has engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices by using the names and marks, Red River Employees Federal Credit Union and Red River Credit Union, and the credit union logo, and variations of the foregoing in connection with its credit union services in Louisiana, and most especially in Bossier and Caddo parishes," it added.

The bank said it has used the Red River Bank name since at least 1999 and has a trademarked logo, according to the court filing. Sometime after 2008, the credit union adopted the logo involved in the dispute, the bank said in its complaint.

Red River Employees Federal Credit Union did not respond to a request for comment on the case. The court has given the credit union until December 11 to respond to the suit.

Red River Employees Federal Credit Union has $802 million in assets and about 85,000 members. At the time of the liquidation and purchase, the Shreveport credit union served 22,122 members and had assets of about $86 million.

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Publication:Credit Union Times
Geographic Code:1U7LA
Date:Nov 28, 2017
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