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Nationwide Mutual Battling Against Florida Marketing Club Over Nationwide Name

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NU Online News Service, Aug. 21, 5:16 p.m. – Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, Columbus, Ohio, has filed a suit in U.S. District Court in Columbus to stop The Nationwide Companies Inc., Davie, Fla., from using the Nationwide name when selling insurance and other financial products.

The small, 2-year-old marketing club markets Medicare supplement insurance and a health care discount cards to “Team Nationwide” members through an affiliate, Nationwide Insurance Group Inc.

Other affiliates that use the Nationwide name, Nationwide Automotive Group Inc. and Nationwide Travel Services Inc., sell club members products such as vitamins and cruises.

Nationwide Mutual is asking the federal court in Columbus for a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Florida company from using the Nationwide name.

Nationwide Mutual is also asking that the Florida company surrender all copies of any materials bearing the Nationwide name for destruction; contact all state insurance regulatory bodies and advise them that they are not connected or affiliated with Nationwide; send each of their policyholders a letter advising that they are not connected with Nationwide; pay compensatory and treble damages to Nationwide; and turn over all Internet domain names that include the word Nationwide.

“Nationwide’s name and trademark are our greatest assets, on which we have built the trust and respect of our customers over many years,” Nationwide Mutual spokesman John Cook said in a statement. “Another company in the same industry doing business under the Nationwide name is misleading to our customers and creates confusion in the marketplace.”

Nationwide Mutual has been using the Nationwide name to sell financial services for many years, and the Florida companies have only recently begun using the name to sell financial services, Nationwide Mutual says.

Doc Lawrence, a spokesman for the Florida Nationwide, says executives at his company have not yet seen the Nationwide Mutual suit and are not aware of receiving any previous complaints from Nationwide Mutual about their use of the Nationwide name.

“We’re quite a distinct company,” Lawrence says. “We don’t advertise in the media.”

The Florida Nationwide markets insurance products and health discount products only to consumers who have already joined Team Nationwide, Lawrence says.

Executives at the Florida Nationwide believe they have the right to keep using the Nationwide name, because a preliminary search reveals that hundreds of companies use the word “nationwide” in federally trademarked names, Lawrence adds.

But Lawrence says Florida Nationwide executives also believe they should be able to find some way to resolve the dispute out of court.