The decision by Truist Financial Corp. to delay a name change for the bulk of its branches until at least August 2021 could become a legal liability in fending off a trademark-infringement lawsuit by Truliant Federal Credit Union.
Truliant filed its complaint June 17 against BB&T Corp. and SunTrust Banks Inc., which combined to form Truist on Dec. 7. Truist’s headquarters is in Charlotte, N.C., and its community/banking hub in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Truliant has narrowed the focus of its complaint to the usage of the “Tru” prefix in the Carolinas and Virginia marketplaces it shares with the nation’s sixth-largest bank.
Truliant’s request submitted Friday represents the credit union’s latest push for a federal judge to halt the process.
The credit union claims a preliminary injunction is timely and necessary to stop further confusion before the Truist signs, logo and color appear at branches in the three states.
The credit union claimed growing consumer confusion between the brands even before Truist debuted its logo and purple color scheme Jan. 13.
“No harm to defendants would outweigh that irreparable harm to Truliant,” the credit union said.
Truist said in a statement Tuesday that “the two brands are very different, and we look forward to our opportunity to prove that this action is without merit.”
In its counterclaim, Truist said “the marks — as actually used in the marketplace — could not be more dissimilar, not only in terms of appearance, sound and meaning, but also logo, color scheme, design and stylization.”
It added, “There is no risk that anyone would confuse these marks in context in actual marketplace use.”
Truliant acknowledged that it previewed the Truist logo and colors, “which differ from Truliant’s logo and colors.”
Truist told analysts and investors Jan. 30 it was delaying most branch conversions in states where BB&T and SunTrust have significant overlap.
“This is about really the digital investments that we’re going to be making,” Truist Chairman and Chief Executive Kelly King said. “We want to get some of those made before we actually roll out the conversion.”
Truliant requests that Truist be prevented from moving forward with marketing Truist at retail or online sites, including applying for Truist trademarks.
Truist submitted the logo and sign trademarks to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Jan. 13. The agency had not assigned a trademark examiner as of Tuesday.