The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled in the fight by two banking companies over a name. A bank headquartered in Indianola began using the name "Community State Bank" in Lucas and Warren Counties in March of 1993 and later in Des Moines in 2005.
Another bank with branches in Ankeny and Altoona began using the name "Community State Bank" in May of 1993, and later acquired branches in Des Moines. The second company continued to acquire other banks and expand and add branches in the Des Moines and surrounding area.
The Indianola bank acquired a bank in Des Moines in 2005 near the other company’s office and started using Community State Bank in that branch’s name. This change led customers to become confused and made night deposits to the wrong bank, attempted to cash checks at the wrong bank, and sent letters or made phone calls to one bank that were intended for the other. The second company sued alleging trademark infringement.
A district court ruled in favor of the second company, saying they had more assets in the area, and had spent millions of dollars advertising and developing the "Community State Bank" name and trademark compared to the Indianola company.
The state appeals court overturned the lower court ruling, but the Iowa Supreme Court says while the "Community State Bank" Indianola did not intend to misrepresent itself as the other bank, Indianola’s use of "Community State Bank" will cause a likelihood of confusion among customers in Polk County.
They found that would infringe on the trademark created by the other company. The High Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals and affirmed the judgment of the district court.