Commerce Bank is suing TD Bank Financial group over TD’s proposed name change to “TD Commerce Bank.” The move would mean downtown Worcester would be left with competing Commerce Banks next door to each other; current-Commerce says it would hurt their business.
The release, below.
March 31, 2008
Commerce Bank & Trust Company, which is headquartered in Worcester, and which conducts its business as Commerce Bank, has sued the Toronto, Canada based TD Bank Financial Group and three other out of state banks over their plans to begin doing business in Massachusetts under the name “TD Commerce Bank.”
The lawsuit, filed today in the United States District Court in Worcester, asks the Court to prohibit TD Bank from doing business under the name “TD Commerce Bank.” Advertisements indicating plans to do so have recently appeared in Massachusetts newspapers.
Commerce Bank has operated continuously in Massachusetts since 1955. It has twelve branches and serves customers throughout Massachusetts.
David G. Massad, Commerce Bank’s Chairman, noted that “For more than fifty years, there has been only one Commerce Bank in Massachusetts. Just because they are a big bank doesn’t mean that we’re going to let them steal our name and attempt to steal our customers.”
“We believe that TD Banknorth’s proposed use of ‘TD Commerce Bank’ in Massachusetts is a direct violation of our rights, and will inevitably create confusion,” said Commerce Bank’s President, Brian W. Thompson. According to Thompson, there has already been confusion among Commerce Bank’s customers, many of whom have misunderstood TD Bank’s advertisements to suggest that it has taken over Commerce Bank. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Thompson.
“This is a tremendous risk to our Bank,” Thompson said. “Commerce Bank has had a proud history of community banking for over fifty years, and it’s obvious that TD Banknorth is attempting to take advantage of our reputation and goodwill.”
According to Thompson, Commerce Bank’s name is protected by a registered Massachusetts trademark with rights dating back to 1955. In 2002, Commerce Bank learned that the New Jersey Commerce Bancorp, recently purchased by TD Bank, was considering expanding banking operations into Massachusetts. At that time, Commerce Bank sent the New Jersey bank a letter demanding that it cease and desist. While New Jersey Commerce Bancorp did not respond to the letter, Thompson noted that it has never contested Commerce Bank’s ownership or registration of its Massachusetts trademark and, until their recent advertisements, never attempted to expand into the Commonwealth.
Thompson said that upon reading the recent advertisements the Bank immediately objected and put the defendants on notice of its rights, with no response, and that he believes that they still intend to proceed with their plans. “They left us no alternative,” said Thompson.
The complaint, which was filed this morning in the Worcester court, also seeks attorneys’ fees, compensatory, and punitive damages against Commerce and TD Banknorth as well as seeking to immediately enjoin TD Banknorth and the other defendants from use of the Commerce Bank name in Massachusetts.