Supermarket chains based in Phoenix and Salt Lake City have sued each other in a dispute over the use of their names.
Salt Lake-based Smith's Food & Drug Centers filed suit last week in Maricopa County Superior Court against Phoenix-based Smitty's Super Value Inc.Smitty's on Tuesday filed suit in U.S. District Court against Smith's.
At issue in both suits are objections by Smitty's that use of the Smith's Food King trade name would infringe upon Smitty's trade name in Arizona and cause consumers to confuse the two businesses.
Smith's suit asks for a court declaration that Smith's Food King does not infringe upon Smitty's name. It also asks for an injunction prohibiting the use of the Smitty's trade name.
Smitty's contends in its suit that Smith's, which plans to build eight supermarkets in metropolitan Phoenix, should not be allowed to use a similar trade name.
Leo Beus, a Phoenix attorney for Smith's, said Wednesday that he could not comment on Smitty's suit because he had not seen it.
Win Smith, executive vice president and general manager of Smitty's, said Wednesday his firm acknowledges the right of competitors to do business in the area.
"All we are asking is that they not capitalize on our quality name that took three decades to build," he said.
However, Smith's, which has been in operation since 1961, contends in its suit that the names aren't that close and that Smith's Food King is not similar to Smitty's.
Smitty's says that people already are confused, as evidenced by mail that has been received by Smitty's but was intended for delivery to Smith's.
"Smitty's personnel have been frequently contacted by individuals stating that they have seen a Smith's supermarket under construction and inquiring when Smitty's would open it," the lawsuit says.
Judge Robert C. Broomfield of U.S. District Court is to conduct a hearing on the Smitty's lawsuit June 7.