Reinalt-Thomas Corp. is suing Mavis Tire Supply over the right to use the name “Discount Tire.” Reinalt-Thomas operates 34 Discount Tire stores in the Atlanta area. Mavis, previously concentrated in the Northeast, entered the Georgia market after acquiring competitor Kauffman Tire in 2018.
The transition of Kauffman locations to Mavis Discount Tire has confused customers, according to the complaint. Reinalt-Thomas claims trademark infringement and possible dilution, along with unfair competition. It’s asking the court to stop Mavis from using the term.
“Since 1960, plaintiff has developed enormous goodwill around its DISCOUNT TIRE trademarks, which are protected nationwide by federal trademark registrations dating back to 1985 …” the suit states.
Mavis, in its answer to the complaint, denied wrongdoing saying that “discount tire” is a generic term when applied to discount tire products and services.
Mavis recently purchased and has begun rebranding third-party tire retailers in the Southeast, including at least part of the retail portion of the Kauffman Tire business. Customer confusion is unlikely, Mavis argues, because the trademark is “at best, weak and entitled, at most, to limited protection due to its descriptiveness …”
“In the United States, hundreds of other discount tire sellers use the words ‘discount tire’ in their business names or in a generic sense to refer to the basic nature or genus of the services and products that they offer and to convey that they are sellers of discount tires,” according to Mavis’ answer to the suit.
In a counterclaim, Mavis has asked for the cancellation of Reinalt-Thomas’ Discount Tire trademark protection.
The case is being heard in the U.S. District Court – Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta.