N.Y. Agency Forces N.M. Shop to Change Its Name
DALLAS–In reaction to a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by New York-based Grey Advertising, Gray & Gray Advertising of Albuquerque, N.M., has agreed to change its name to G+G Advertising.
That change came reluctantly, said G+G co-owner Michael Gray, a Blackfeet/Chippewa-Cree Indian whose shop specializes in marketing to Native Americans.
“It’s a sad day in America when you have to give up your own family name, especially when your relatives have already given up so much,” said Gray.
In April, Grey Advertising filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. Southern District of New York alleging Gray & Gray Advertising “embarked on a calculated attempt to capitalize upon the goodwill” associated with Grey’s name.
Gray said last week he acquiesced when confronted with the cost of going to court against the $6.5 billion agency network. “My lawyers told me that the discovery phase alone would cost us several hundred thousand dollars,” Gray said.
Gray alleges the lawsuit came only after the small New Mexico agency rebuffed partnership efforts last year from Grey in pursuit of a $100 million U.S. Census Bureau account. Gray instead teamed with Young & Rubicam as part of a five-agency consortium that won the account in October to build participation in the 2000 census.
Toni Lee, a representative for Grey, said, “As a company that’s been in business for over 80 years, we have a corporate obligation to protect our trademark and protect our name in the marketplace.” Lee declined further comment on the suit.
In a letter sent to Grey attorneys before the suit’s filing, Gray counsel Phil Krehbiel questioned the New York agency’s assertion of “a likelihood of confusion . . . there was certainly no confusion in your client’s mind when it solicited the help of Gray & Gray Advertising, nor any question that it was a separate and unaffiliated company.”
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