Truliant Federal Credit Union served BB&T Corp. and SunTrust Banks Inc. with a series of documents this week aimed at compelling the banks to respond to a trademark-infringement lawsuit filed by Truliant.
The Winston-Salem, N.C.-based credit union filed the lawsuit June 17 in the federal Middle District of N.C. over the proposed brand name of Truist.
The legal action came after the banks announced Truist Financial Corp. as the name for their combined holding company and Truist Bank as name for the retail brand.
Neither bank has filed a legal response to the Truliant lawsuit.
Richard Coughlin, an attorney for Truliant, said in the legal filings that the banks were served copies of the summons, complaint, corporate disclosures and notice of right to consent.
Truliant has asked a federal judge to request that the banks respond by Sept. 25.
Truliant President Todd Hall said in a statement Thursday that “service of the complaint is the next step in the litigation process.”
“We continue to work toward a successful resolution of this matter. Our commitment to defend our brand and preserve the equity we’ve built in the Truliant name over two decades is just as strong now as it was when the Truist name was announced.”
The timing of the Truliant request comes as the super-regional banks expect a late September to early October closing of their megadeal, although some analysts say it could take until late December to early 2020.
BB&T spokesman David White said Thursday that the serving of the legal documents “is a routine part of the process and it’s not unexpected. Beyond that, we can’t comment.”
SunTrust declined to comment.
The banks announced Feb. 7 that BB&T would acquire SunTrust in a $26.7 billion megadeal and that the combined bank’s headquarters would be in Charlotte.
The combined current value of the deal is $63.3 billion.
Even though the lawsuit involves two Winston-Salem-based financial institutions, Truliant is not pulling any legal punches. It is requesting compensatory and punitive damages.
“Defendants have taken advantage of and sought to trade upon the reputation and goodwill developed by Truliant and ‘Tru” trademarks ... and to capitalize on the market created by Truliant for its Truliant services. Defendants’ acts were committed with the reckless disregard of Truliant’s rights.”
Truliant wants the banks to be prevented from moving forward with marketing Truist at retail or online, including applying for Truist trademarks.
BB&T applied June 11 for five sets of trademarks with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
The banks have so far only disclosed Truist as a brand, waiting to unveil a logo, signs, colors and stock ticker symbol.