An Illinois federal judge ruled March 3, 2017, that a Florida wealth manager will have to pick a new name for his firm, Ariel Capital Advisors LLC, because it is likely to be confused with Chicago-based Ariel Investments LLC, a much larger firm that owns several trademarks to the name dating back to 1984.
U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly said it didn’t matter that Ariel Investments services wealthier clients than Christopher Bray’s Florida-based firm or that Ariel Investments offers certain products, like mutual fund accounts, that Ariel Capital does not.
Both offer advice to individual investors, he said, and testimony at a February bench trial showed that Ariel Investments sometimes makes exceptions to its $10 million investment minimum.
“Thus the evidence shows that both companies take on investors with investments ranging from a few thousand dollars to over a million dollars,” the judge wrote in his post-trial findings Friday.
“Any minor differences in the targeted audience are irrelevant given that parties need not be in direct competition, so long as their products or services are the kind the public might attribute to a single source,” he added.
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