What is in a name? A whole lot if you ask the two companies that have been battling it out in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
Reinalt-Thomas Corp., which does business as Discount Tire, sued Mavis Tire Supply LLC for trademark infringement late last year. The two have reached a settlement, the details of which are confidential, but Mavis is required to rebrand close to 100 stores throughout the Southeast that carried “Discount Tire” in their names. Service Executive reported on the lawsuit earlier this year.
Reinalt-Thomas operates 34 Discount Tire stores in the Atlanta area. Mavis entered the Georgia market after acquiring competitor Kauffman Tire in 2018. Prior to the acquisition, Mavis primarily was concentrated in the Northeast.
According to court documents — specifically the affidavit of Mavis Co-CEO David Sorbaro, Mavis had begun rebranding acquired stores under the unified name of Mavis Discount Tire promptly upon the acquisition. There are 94 rebranded stores in Georgia and Florida, a list of which and specific locations for which were detailed in an appendix to the affidavit.
According to the original complaint filed by Reinalt-Thomas, the transition of Kauffman locations to the name of Mavis Discount Tire confused customers. Reinalt-Thomas claimed trademark infringement and possible dilution, along with unfair competition. It asked the court to stop Mavis from using the term.
Mavis, in its answer to the complaint, denied wrongdoing saying that “discount tire” is a generic term when applied to discount tire products and services.
The two parties did agree to concurrent use of the trademarked name in separate geographic markets. That means that Mavis has a right to use “Discount Tire” in markets in the Northeast. That includes all of New York and New Jersey, and parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
Sorbaro said in his affidavit that the rebranding will be a lengthy process. In an appendix to his affidavit, the total cost of rebranding will be $2.45 million for 94 stores.
Each rebranded store uses “Mavis Discount Tire” as its primary mark, he stated. The mark appears throughout the exterior and interiors of stores, including on building signs, pole signs, awnings, windows, interior decorations, staff clothing, and products, as well as in catalogs and advertising material.
The rebranded stores do not include an additional 21 stores that Mavis has acquired in Georgia and Florida. Although Mavis had also intended to rebrand these remaining stores under the Mavis Discount Tire brand, Mavis suspended those efforts in response to the court’s July 10 order.
The rebranded stores do require, on average, 345 days to rebrand, with 50 stores requiring more than one year and 18 stores requiring close to 16 months. Mavis will prioritize rebranding in what are primary markets for Reinault-Thomas: Atlanta, Jacksonville and Orlando.
Mavis worked with an expert branding firm and decided upon the name “Mavis Discounted Tire & Brakes.”
An attorney for The Reinault-Thomas did not return a call or email seeking comment. A spokeswoman for Reinault-Thomas said that the terms of the settlement agreement are confidential. Two attorneys for Mavis declined comment.