CITY OF COMMERCE, Calif.-The Los Angeles Superior Court has ruled a single-outlet retail dealership in Canoga Park, Calif., is infringing on AKH Co. Inc.'s ``Discount Tire Centers'' trade name. As a result of the ruling, Canoga Park-based Valley Discount Tire agreed to drop ``Discount Tire'' from its company name.
AKH, which operates more than 130 outlets in California, Washington, Oregon and Utah under a variety of names including Discount Tire Centers, filed the lawsuit in December 1992 saying Valley Discount was ``palming off its trade name and taking advantage of its multi-million-dollar advertising campaign and goodwill interests,'' the company said.
The court announced its ruling Dec. 12 following a six-hour initial hearing in which both parties stipulated AKH had filed for use of the ``Discount Tire'' trade name Feb. 18, 1977, more than one year prior to the date Valley Discount began doing business, according to AKH trial attorney Robert Mosier.
The court ruled AKH had rights to the name and that Valley Discount's name was ``confusingly similar,'' he said.
Valley Discount owner Ted Mcdonald said he would not ``make any public disclosures.''
Although Valley Discount is a single-location competitor, Leon C. Alexander of the law firm Briggs & Alexander and corporate counsel for AKH, said any infringement against the ``Discount Tire'' trade name results in lost sales.
AKH does not intend to pursue the case for damages if Valley Discount changes its name, he said.
Under the terms of the settlement, Valley Discount had 10 days to file for a new fictitious business name and 90 days to change its signage, advertising and letterhead, Mr. Mosier said.
Currently, AKH, which also operates outlets under the Evans Tire & Service Centers and David Early Tires banners, is in contact with about ``a half dozen'' other companies it believes are infringing on the ``Discount Tire'' trade name, according to President John Andonian. None of those cases has been filed in court.
In 1991, however, the firm defended its trade name in a similar lawsuit against Discount Tire Co. Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz. As a result, Discount Tire of Arizona conceded the use of the ``Discount Tire'' name in Oregon and California except for San Diego County.