Imagine rolling out a new corporate logo and then receiving a cease and desist letter from one of the world’s largest companies. That is precisely the situation HealthPartners, Inc. found itself in. With legal assistance from Gray Plant Mooty, HealthPartners was able to navigate successfully through a complex intellectual property dispute and today the company continues to feature its logo throughout its health care system.
“Gray Plant Mooty focused on our business goals for this complex matter and crafted and executed a strategy to help us achieve those goals. In my decades of experience with litigation, this is one of the best teams I have worked with,” said Deputy General Counsel at HealthPartners Jeff Vigil.
HealthPartners is the largest consumer governed nonprofit health care organization in the nation. An integrated health care organization that provides health care services and health plan financing and administration, Health Partners, Inc. is based in Bloomington, Minnesota.
In 2013, after combining with two other health systems, HealthPartners decided to select a new logo to reflect its growing business and help integrate the combined entities. A team at HealthPartners reached out to design firms around the country and ultimately selected a logo designed by a well-known graphic design firm. That firm developed the following blue, green and purple design:
HealthPartners applied to register the new mark, its application was approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and it began to roll out the new mark to its employees, patients, and members. In 2014, after HealthPartners had invested in the new mark, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. contacted HealthPartners and objected to the logo as being too similar to the logo used by Sam’s Club.
Gray Plant Mooty’s trademark lawyers, led by Dean Eyler and Ashley Bennett Ewald, developed an aggressive and sophisticated strategy to take on the world’s largest retailer. After attempts at negotiations were unsuccessful, HealthPartners initiated a declaratory judgment action in the District of Minnesota (HealthPartners, Inc. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. et al., Civ. A. No. 16-CV-2970) asking the Court to determine that its logo does not infringe Sam’s Club’s trademark rights, thereby protecting HealthPartners’ investment in its new logo.
In litigation, HealthPartners was able to reach a settlement agreement and dismissal of the dispute. Though the terms of the agreement are confidential, consumers will see that HealthPartners’ logo is unchanged and remains prominently featured in its business.
Lead Counsel Dean Eyler said, “It’s an honor when clients put their trust in us on important matters like this and we are pleased we were able to help HealthPartners achieve its goals in the case.”