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APPLE VALLEY, Minn. – After a nearly year-and-a half old dispute over claims of name and logo infringement, Wings Financial Federal Credit Union and Northwest Airlines have reached a settlement. The $1.4 billion credit union, previously known as NWA FCU, would not release any further details about the settlement only saying “the settlement was reached to the satisfaction of both parties,” said John Wagner, Wings Financial vice president of marketing. Both parties agreed to the settlement a couple of weeks ago, he added. In July, 2003, Northwest Airlines filed a suit against the credit union for claims of logo and name infringement. In December, 2003, NWA FCU received NCUA approval to expand to a trade, industry and profession (TIP) charter to anyone working in the air transportation industry and this July, it changed its name to Wings Financial Federal Credit Union. It later partnered in July with AirTran Airways to offer products and services to the carrier’s more than 5,800 employees. Even the credit union’s new moniker didn’t sit well with Northwest. At the time, the airline indicated that it had claims to the “Wings” portion of the name because Wings Holding was an investment group that took Northwest Airlines private in 1989. Kurt Ebenhoch, a Northwest Airlines spokesman, confirmed that the settlement was indeed reached but offered no further details. “All of the disputed issues between Northwest Airlines and the credit union have been resolved,” Ebenhoch said, implying that the resolution also includes the “Wings” name dispute. Both parties were locked in a stalemate that started in April 2003 when Northwest Airlines made the decision not to renew the credit union’s ATM and office leases on the carrier’s properties in certain cites. Northwest Airlines made the decision after Wings Financial said it could not pay a royalty/user fee the carrier was seeking for the use of its logo and other trademarks. The fee would have amounted to half of the credit union’s net income or $6 million annually, Wings Financial President/CEO Paul Parish told members in an April 2003 letter. In May 2003, the airline agreed to extend the leases beyond their July 5, 2003 expiration to March 31, 2004 and eventually for three years beyond that, but the dispute over the name and logo continued. NCUA stepped in when a credit union member e-mailed Regional V Director Jane Walters to see if Northwest Airlines was indeed overstepping its bounds by asking for the royalty/user fee. Based on the evidence presented to her, Walters responded in a May 2, 2003 letter that the credit union had no authority to pay the fee “for the use of its own trademark” and Northwest Airlines “has no right requesting compensation to serve this field of membership.” Parish alerted members in a July 11, 2003 letter that Northwest had filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Minnesota claiming that the credit union had infringed on the airline’s trademarks. Both parties continued to negotiate when Northwest Airlines President Doug Steeland sent a Jan. 19, 2004 letter to all employees on the dispute. He applauded the strides they made with the lease extensions, but “to (their) disbelief,” both parties remained deadlocked on the logo and name use. [email protected]

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