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GNC sues over similar name

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By John D. Oravecz
Saturday, May 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

General Nutrition Centers Inc. is suing a Florida chain of pawnshops over the use of its name.

The Pittsburgh retailer, which operates 8,100 nutritional products stores worldwide, filed the lawsuit two weeks ago in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., against Gold N Connection LLC, which operates five pawnshops and a website under the names GNC Pawn and gncpawn.com.

General Nutrition said it has used the GNC for its retail operations since at least 1963. Gold N Connection registered that name in Florida on Dec. 19, 2007, according to its attorney Douglas J. Jeffrey.

Using the name GNC Pawn is likely to dilute General Nutrition's trademark “by blurring its distinctiveness,” the retailer claimed. GNC “instantly identifies and distinguishes GNC and its products and services in the minds of consumers.” It became famous long before GNC Pawn started using that name, the lawsuit said.

Gold N Connection is a family-owned company with pawn shops in Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Margate and Oakland Park in Broward County, Fla., plus its website.

“GNC is delusional if it believes that the public will be confused into thinking the GNCPawn.com sells vitamins or dietary supplements. ... We do not sell nutritional products,” said owner Joshua Davis in a statement released Friday by his attorney.

General Nutrition claimed that GNC Pawn used similar block-style lettering as the retailer's GNC logo and the same red coloring.

“The fonts and typefaces are completely different,” said Davis.

GNC Pawn's shops and signs are located within about five miles of 13 GNC nutrition stores, General Nutrition said in the lawsuit.

“That had nothing to do with their selection” of a name, said attorney Jeffrey, who represents GNC Pawn.

“This lawsuit presents a classic case of David and Goliath,” Jeffrey said. “We will vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit.”

General Nutrition as a matter of corporate policy does not comment on pending litigation, spokeswoman Laura Brophy wrote in an email.

It wants the court to bar use of the GNC Pawn name, deliver to General Nutrition all signage and other materials used, and pay damages of three times the amount of Gold N Connection's profits.

John D. Oravecz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7882 or joravecz@tribweb.com.

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