QC Marts vs. Quick Mart

Sign similarity sparks suit

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- The owner of a chain of Quad City convenience stores has sued one of his competitors, saying that store's sign is too close in appearance to those of his business, reported the Quad City Times.

William Ernst, owner of the company that has operated QC Marts in Davenport, Iowa, since 1995, said in a lawsuit that the yellow-and-red sign at Quick Mart, also in Davenport, confuses customers because it is so similar.

"My customers first alerted me to the presence of the Quick Mart," Ernst, the owner of Bethany Enterprises [image-nocss] Inc., stated in an affidavit filed in Scott County District Court, according to the report. "These customers thought it was a new location for Bethany Enterprises."

But Quick Mart owner Ramzan Ahmad said he has had the same sign since 2002, when he had a business on another street. "This is Quick Mart, his is QC Mart," Ahmad told the newspaper. As for any customer confusion, he added, "I don't think so."

Ahmad said the request filed in district court for him to stop using the sign might have something to do with Ernst reportedly purchasing a c-store across the street. Ernst's attorney, Mark Tarnow, said he could not comment on whether his client has purchased that property, but he added that identity is the main issue.

"The essential part is that their signage is close enough that we don't want anybody to think they are us or we are them," Tarnow told the Times.

The use of the sign by Quick Mart diminishes the profits of Bethany Enterprises and damages the reputation of QC Marts, Ernst said in his lawsuit.