Here is an interesting story on Dcourier.com, Cycle Zone Motorsports & Marine is a family owned Arizona business that has been around since 2012. Auto Zone sent the company a letter demanding they change their name and hand over their domain names.
Your use of a name and mark that included the term ZONE to engage in services that overlap with those offered by AutoZone under its ZONE Marks is likely to confuse customers into believing that your business is associated or affiliated with, or sponsored or endorsed by, AutoZone,” wrote Galen Colbert, trademark administrator for AutoZone.
Bill Hamm the owner was quoted, “They seem to be going after smaller companies,” “They’re strong-arming local businesses.”
The Daily Courier contacted a California man who was told in 2013 he needed to stop running his business under the name USA Motozone. Radi Mintchev of San Diego, a plumber by day, runs the website that sells motorcycles, bicycles, parts and accessories.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “They’re trying to shut down all the websites containing the word ‘zone.'”
But two years after receiving the letter, Mintchev’s site is still running under the same name, and he has no plans of complying with AutoZone’s request.
“They can try,” he said. But he believes his company is distinct enough that he’s not interfering with AutoZone’s business.
The Daily Courier pointed out that Auto Zone has not one every time out they tried to strong arm another company.
AutoZone has had mixed success suing businesses that use the word “zone” in their name.
In 2005, the company lost a suit in federal court against Delaware-based Tri-State Auto Outlet Inc. for their use of the name Car Zone at a dealership since 1997.
AutoZone also lost a similar case in Illinois to a company using the names Wash Zone and Oil Zone, though AutoZone later won on appeal.
Originally known as Auto Shack, the company changed its name to AutoZone in 1987 to settle a 1982 lawsuit brought by Tandy Corp, owners of the now-bankrupt RadioShack.
RadioShack later started selling power strips, extension cords and electrical power supplies in a section of their store called the PowerZone. AutoZone sued, but lost in 2004.
The company figures it will spend $6,000 to change everything from the name, letterhead, signage, etc… Bill Hamm did say that he will not just turn over the domain names for free. Good on your Bill. Lenna Hamm also said they are getting support from customers and people around the country who are starting to boycott Auto Zone.
Read the full article on Dcourier.com