Court rules Boston neighborhood bank too dinky to prevent larger competitor from using similar name
A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that Peoples Federal Savings Bank has no grounds to immediately bar the Connecticut-based People's United Bank from opening branches in the Boston area under that name.
The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit rejected the homegrown Peoples' request for a preliminary injunction because it failed to prove anybody outside the six specific neighborhoods and towns in which it has branches had heard of it or would be confused by the similar names, especially because other banks in eastern Massachusetts already used "People" as part of their names and because while its logo is green and yellow, Peoples United's is red and blue.
Its advertising efforts and community involvement, though significant, were found to be highly localized within the Boston city limits and nearby urban areas. Therefore, the district court concluded that Peoples Federal's mark was enforceable, but only "within Allston/Brighton, Brookline, Jamaica Plain, Norwood and West Roxbury . . . [and] not throughout all of Eastern Massachusetts, or even the rest of Middlesex, Suffolk and Norfolk counties."
People's United now has a branch in downtown Boston.
Ironically for a ruling that hinges on identity, the name of Peoples Federal's president is misspelled repeatedly.
Ed. note: We have a checking account at Peoples Federal, and our daughter always likes getting a lollipop at their West Roxbury branch.