Blain's Farm & Fleet retains name rights

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Kevin Murphy
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
— Blain's Farm & Fleet retained exclusive rights to use its trade name in settling a legal dispute with a Minnesota retailer, which also uses the Farm and Fleet name for its stores.

In an agreement announced Monday in the year-long trademark infringement lawsuit between Blain's Supply and Runnings Supply, the Marshall, Minn.,-based retailer agreed to:

-- Drop any "Farm & Fleet" reference on its website.

-- Restrict the use of the Runnings Farm & Fleet name to Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska.

-- Not use "Farm & Fleet" without it being preceded by "Runnings" in those seven states.

Blain's spokesperson Renee Tarnutzer said the Janesville-based corporation was pleased with the terms.

"We get to use the trademark nationwide. Runnings is restricted to using it in the seven states (they currently operated in)," she said.

Tarnutzer had no comment Monday on whether Blain's plans to expand into any state where Runnings operates.

Runnings' conceding the use of "Farm & Fleet" on its website might be increasingly important in the future. Both companies used basically the same name for years as retailers in adjoining states, but Blain's filed suit in December 2009 as both chains turned to the Internet to gain sales.

When the suit was filed, Blain's attorney George Steil confirmed that Internet sales were among the key reasons for the suit.

"It causes confusion among customers and conflicts when two companies using the same name start selling the same merchandise over the Internet," Steil said.

In 1955, Blain's began using "Farm & Fleet" on its retail stores, which have since grown to number 34. In the 1980s, Claude and Bert Blain changed the name to Blain's Farm & Fleet to avoid confusion with Mills Fleet Farm, another Wisconsin retailer.

In 1996, Runnings began using the name Runnings Fleet & Farm but changed in early 2002, when Runnings' new name was challenged by Mills Fleet Farm. That resulted in Runnings switching the last two words in its trade name to Runnings Farm & Fleet.

Last updated: 9:51 am Monday, December 17, 2012

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