Magazine article American Banker

Bridge of Calif. Objects to N.C. Tag 'NewBridge'

Magazine article American Banker

Bridge of Calif. Objects to N.C. Tag 'NewBridge'

Article excerpt

Even before opening their doors as a combined company, two merging North Carolina banks have found themselves in the midst of controversy.

LSB Bancshares Inc. in Lexington, N.C., announced April 5 that it had selected the name "NewBridge Bank" for the $2 billion-asset company that will result from its impending purchase of FNB Financial Services Corp. in Greensboro.

The $125 million deal, announced Feb. 27 and expected to close in the third quarter, would create the sixth-largest bank based in North Carolina, with $1.6 billion of deposits and a 42-branch network - including four in Virginia.

But shortly after unveiling its new name, LSB executives got a letter from an attorney representing the $721 million-asset Bridge Bank in San Jose, Calif., alleging that the name NewBridge Bank would infringe its trademark.

"Your new company's use of the virtually identical trade name, 'NewBridge Bank,' will confuse customers who may believe your services are in some way related to our client's services," Aaron Schur, an associate at Bingham McCutchen LLP in San Francisco, wrote in an April 30 letter. "We therefore demand that you cease and desist any and all present and future use of the trade name."

The lawyer gave LSB until May 11 to comply, warning that failure to do so could result in "forfeiture of profits, treble damages, and attorneys' fees."

But LSB refused to submit and has since asked a federal judge to rule that its chosen name does not violate a trademark.

"There is no likelihood of confusion, mistake, or deception between the use of NewBridge" and Bridge Bank, LSB's attorneys said in a complaint filed May 11 in U. …

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