Weakened Financial Institutions Undergo Rebranding and Now Face Federal Lawsuit.

ATLANTA, June 12, 2009 -- Four financial institutions located in the Atlanta area underwent a rebranding in 2007 to all fall under the "Silverton" umbrella only to become defendants in a federal lawsuit filed today.

The lawsuit filed today by Silverton Mortgage Specialists, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia enumerated multiple claims against Silverton Bank, N.A., and its affiliates/subsidiaries Silverton Financial Services, Inc., and Silverton Capital Corporation. Defendant Silverton Bridge Bank, N.A. took over the operations of defendant Silverton Bank on May 1, 2009 as a result of the bank's highly publicized failure.

Prior to rebranding in 2007, the defendants were known as The Bankers Bank, Community Financial Services, Inc., and BankersBanc Capital Corporation respectively. Also named as defendant is Silverton Bridge Bank, N.A. which is a bridge bank chartered by the Office of the Comptroller o f the Currency ("OCC") on or about May 1, 2009 under Section 11(n) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act.

Silverton Mortgage Specialists, Inc. is a Georgia corporation and claims to have used the service marks SILVERTON, SILVERTON MORTGAGE, and SILVERTON MORTGAGE SPECIALISTS in connection with mortgage brokerage and mortgage lending services since October, 1998. To protect Silverton Mortgage's investment and goodwill, Silverton Mortgage obtained a federal trademark registration for the mark SILVERTON on September 2, 2008.

The complaint argues the defendants have engaged in trademark infringement, unfair competition, false designations of origin, deceptive trade practices, and misappropriation by using the SILVERTON trademark in connection with financial services.

While the registration of the mark SILVERTON did not occur until 2008, the defendants were apparently aware of Silverton Mortgage Specialists, Inc. as all the parties in the case are located in Atlanta. Prior to the defendants' rebranding in 2007, The Bankers Bank sought Silverton Mortgage Specialists, Inc.'s blessing to the proposed name changes. Silverton Mortgage rejected the idea and refused to sign a co-existance agreement. Despite the refusal, the defendants adopted Silverton, Silverton Financial and Silverton Financial Services anyway.

On or about March 5, 2008, defendant Silverton Financial filed applications to register the word mark SILVERTON BANK and stylized logos with the with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Registration was refused on the grounds of liklihood of confusion with Silverton Mortgage's registered mark SILVERTON.

The primary purpose of trademark infringement laws is to prevent consumer confusion regarding the source of goods and services. The first party to use a trademark may prohibit other parties from using a mark subsequently in connection with similar goods or services if it so resembles the original mark as to cause confusion. If the later mark is so similar, it is deemed to infringe on the prior mark.

When a court finds a defendant intentionally counterfeited a registered trademark, the court must under the Lanham Act, enter judgment for three times the greater of the counterfeiters' profits or the plaintiff's damages together with a reasonable attorney’s fee unless the Plaintiff elects for statutory damages up to $1,000,000 per counterfeit mark per type of goods or services.

In addition to alleging trademark infringement, Silverton has pled a claim of trademark dilution. The primary purpose of trademark infringement laws is protect consumers, even though the owner of the trademark receives any monetary judgment awarded. Trademark dilution laws protect the property interest in a trademark with its "uniqueness" and the good will associated therein.

An issue in the case may be whether Silverton Mortgage Specialists, Inc. waived their rights by failing to bring a lawsuit sooner.

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