Truliant sues BB&T, SunTrust over post-merger name Truist

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WINSTON-SALEM — Truliant Federal Credit Union announced Monday that it’s filed a lawsuit in 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.

Truliant officials say they have used the brand name Truliant and its shortened form of “Tru” at its branches, in marketing campaigns and in products, services and taglines since 1999. The name is a federally registered trademark.

“Truliant has considerable brand equity in its Truliant and “Tru” family of trademarks,” the North Carolina-based company said in a recent press release.

“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,” Todd Hall, Truliant’s president, said in the release. “As a member-owned cooperative and community leader, it is very important for consumers to be able to make this distinction.”

The newly merged BB&T/SunTrust entity will be known as “Truist Financial Corp.” and will be headquartered in Charlotte, according to the release, but it will continue to have operations out of BB&T’s current headquarters in Winston-Salem and SunTrust’s Atlanta headquarters.

Truliant has 15 locations in the greater Winston-Salem region and 13 locations in the Charlotte-metro region, according to the release.

“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 to happen in the second half of 2019, according to the release.

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.