Citicorp is the subject of a counterclaims lawsuit filed by three year old Citicredit for trademark and trade name infringement. The giant US bank first instituted legal action after it attempted to register the Citicredit name for its own consumer lending business.
The counterclaims allege that Citicorp's current use of the Citicredit service mark has caused mass confusion and irreparable harm to their business. Citicredit seeks damages in an unspecified amount, an injunction, cancellation of Citicorp pending trademark applications for registration of the Citicredit service mark, and dismissal of the case.
Citicredit first registered as an Internet domain name in January 1997 and began
using it as a service mark in connection with its online mortgage lending business. A month later the company changed its corporate name from California Finance and Mortgage, Inc. to Citicredit. The company has also filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for registration of the Citicredit service mark for mortgage lending and related services.
"There is no foundation for the original lawsuit filed against my company," says Amarjit Walia, a co-founder of Citicredit, "and that's why we have filed this counterclaim. We were there first, fair and square, and will not be intimidated by a corporate behemoth. We will do whatever it takes to defend our name and hard earned reputation."
"A cursory Internet search by Citicorp, would have shown them that my client already had prior use of the Citicredit name," says William Levin, a partner with Californian law firm Levin and Hawes. "In the past, Citicorp has claimed that they own anything with the word `citi' in it. They don't have any such monopoly and aren't standing on terra firma in this case. For justice to prevail, their complaint should be dismissed, and Citicorp should be immediately enjoined from using Citicredit's service mark to prevent, once and for all, any further confusion."