Truliant FCU, Winston-Salem, N.C. announced Monday that it has filed a lawsuit in the U.S District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina challenging Truist bank, the intended new name of the merged BB&T Corp. and SunTrust Bank entities.
The Truliant® brand name has been in use since 1999 and is the subject of a federally registered trademark. Truliant’s branches, marketing, products and services are branded with this name, in addition to other names and taglines that include the “Tru” prefix. Truliant has considerable brand equity in its Truliant® and “Tru” family of trademarks.
“This is a clear infringement on our name, and their proximity to our main business region will confuse consumers and undermine the trust we have built in our institution,” said Todd Hall, Truliant’s president. “As a member-owned cooperative and community leader, it is very important for consumers to be able to make this distinction.”
The new BB&T/SunTrust entity will be known as “Truist Financial Corp” and will be headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., but it will continue to have operations out of BB&T's current headquarters in Winston-Salem, N.C., and SunTrust's Atlanta, GA. headquarters. Truliant has 15 locations in the greater Winston-Salem region and 13 locations in the Charlotte-Metro region.
“By using a name that is very similar to our Truliant® brand name and other “Tru” family trademarks, SunTrust and BB&T will be trading on the equity we have built,” Truliant’s Hall added. “Truth, trust and reliability are hard-earned values that we are not willing to give away. These concepts were significantly damaged by big banks in recent years. We plan to vigorously protect our most-well known intellectual property for the sake of our members. It belongs to them. We have a responsibility to protect it.”
The “Truist” name will not become official until the merger closes, which is expected in the second half of 2019. Shareholders from both companies are scheduled to vote on the merger and new name in the coming months. The merger, announced in February and valued at $66 billion, will create the sixth-largest bank in the United States, serving more than 10 million U.S. households.