Discover Kalamazoo files suit against Southwest Michigan First in trademark dispute

Kalamazoo (FILE)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Discover Kalamazoo has filed an infringement lawsuit against Southwest Michigan First Corporation over the latter's use of a Discover Kalamazoo service mark.

The suit--which has not yet been served--centers around Discover Kalamazoo's service mark 269™, and what the group calls Southwest Michigan First's "continued willful infringement" of the mark.

Discover Kalamazoo uses "269" to keep people informed of things they can do in Kalamazoo, and in the 269 area code.

Discover Kalamazoo says they have attempted to negotiate to allow Southwest Michigan First to continue to use 269 for their publication, "269 Magazine," but the two parties have been unable to come to an agreement.

Southwest Michigan First has also reportedly filed a legal proceeding through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in connection to Discover Kalamazoo's right to the mark.

Discover Kalamazoo released a statement to Newschannel 3 late Wednesday:

Discover Kalamazoo has filed an infringement lawsuit in federal court against Southwest Michigan First Corporation (SWMF). The purpose of the complaint is, in part, to stop SWMF’s continued willful infringement of Discover Kalamazoo’s service mark, 269™. Discover Kalamazoo has only taken this action as a last resort.
Since 2015, Discover Kalamazoo has attempted to negotiate in good faith to allow SWMF to use the Mark with its publication, 269 Magazine. SWMF, unfortunately, was not interested in recognizing Discover Kalamazoo’s rights in the Mark and proceeded to publish its 269 Magazine anyway thereby infringing Discover Kalamazoo’s federally and state recognized Mark. In addition, SWMF is now attacking Discover Kalamazoo’s rights in the Mark through a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) legal proceeding even after the USPTO recognized our brand that we have built in 269™.
SWMF’s actions, including its filing of the USPTO legal proceeding and its failure and refusal to negotiate in good faith, have put Discover Kalamazoo in a position where litigation has become necessary to protect its rights in the Mark. A significant amount of time and money have gone into developing Discover Kalamazoo’s brand under the Mark. We cannot let this investment go to waste.
Discover Kalamazoo has not yet served this complaint in a sincere attempt to provide an opportunity for the parties to settle this dispute. We hope there will be no need to ever serve the complaint. Discover Kalamazoo remains willing to agree to terms which are favorable to both sides while respecting our Mark.

Newschannel 3 will continue to follow this story as it develops.

You can read the full complaint filed by Discover Kalamazoo below.

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