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MINNEAPOLIS – Northwest Airlines’ claims of logo and trademark infringement has brought U.S. Bank into the fray. Last summer, NWA Federal Credit Union wrote to U.S. Bank, “one of our most important, loyal and indispensable banking and marketing partners,” said Northwest Airlines President Doug Steenland and alleged that if it used the NWA logo in Northwest’s new livery on its WorldPerks cards, the bank would be violating the credit union’s trademark rights. Shortly after, Northwest filed a lawsuit in Minnesota asking the court to affirm that the trademarks belong to Northwest and that the credit union is not permitted to interfere with Northwest’s decision to license its trademarks to business partners like U.S. Bank. “This is an issue on which we cannot and will not compromise,” Steenland said. “We own these assets and we must retain the complete freedom to decide how to use them.” Steenland said U.S. Bank “paid hundreds of millions of dollars to Northwest in 2003 for all the benefits from the U.S. Bank VISA card” and the airline “would never put (itself) in the position where we needed to ask for the credit union’s permission to reach a partnership agreement that is in Northwest’s interests with another financial institution.” NWA FCU President/CEO Paul Parish did acknowledge contacting U.S. Bank last May expressing its concerns with losing “the legal protection for our trademarked name.” Parish said it asked the bank to take “suitable steps to prevent confusion in the marketplace” when using the letters `NWA’ in the marketing of the WorldPerks Visa card. “We understand the importance of Northwest’s relationship with U.S. Bank and the revenue it brings to the airline,” Parish said. “During the lengthy negotiation process, we told Northwest we would not interfere with use of the NWA name in the financial services marketplace for their WorldPerks program if Northwest would just allow the credit union to continue serving (the members) and drop their demands for excessive and impermissible fees. Northwest has chosen not to accept this offer.” At press time, calls were not returned from U.S. Bank for comment on whether changes had been made to WorldPerks marketing materials.

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