Banks Settle Legal Dispute Over Connect Name

Banks Settle Legal Dispute Over Connect Name

The corporate identity of Star City’s Connect Bank emerged intact after litigation surrounding its name evaporated recently.

The federal case filed by ConnectOne Bank of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, and its publicly traded parent company, ConnectOne Bancorp Inc., against Star City Bancshares Inc. and its $101 million-asset bank was dismissed with prejudice.

The joint agreement by the parties earlier this month brought a sudden halt to the lawsuit, filed in Little Rock’s U.S. District Court.

The dispute, originally scheduled for jury trial on Nov. 2 last year, had been rescheduled to Feb. 2 and later to June 7.

The case dated back to May 6, 2019, when ConnectOne alleged trademark infringement and unfair competition against Connect Bank and its holding company.

The alleged marketplace confusion didn’t muddle geographic distinctions between the Hudson River and Bayou Bartholomew. According to ConnectOne’s complaint, the marketplace confusion was domiciled on the Internet.

The former Bank of Star City was renamed Connect Bank on March 25, 2019. The former North Jersey Community Bank was renamed ConnectOne Bank on Feb. 11, 2013.

Two other banks sport “Connect” or “Connections” as the first name in their commercial identity, and five credit unions feature “Connect,” “Connects,” “Connected,” “Connection” or “Connections” as their corporate forename.

Each party in the federal case was to bear its own legal costs as part of the agreed dismissal.

Connect Bank recorded a $1.3 million profit during 2020. Of that total, shareholders divvied up cash dividends of more than $1 million.

The payout could’ve been higher, but legal fees and expenses for the year totaled $181,000. That line item was a zero in recent years.