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Banks settle F&M name squabble

April 11, 2002|BY DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

The case of F&M vs. F&M, a lawsuit filed over the use of the nickname in Washington County by one of the banks, is over.

"They said, 'Hey sorry, we won't do that again,'" Farmers & Merchants Bank and Trust attorney Brent Procida said Wednesday.

In August 2001, Farmers & Merchants filed a lawsuit in Washington County Circuit Court against Farmers & Mechanics Bank and Mechanics' parent company F&M Bancorp.

The suit claimed Farmers & Mechanics used the "F&M" nickname in Washington County, in violation of an agreement that gave Farmers & Merchants the exclusive right to use the F&M nickname in Washington, Allegany, and Garrett counties. Mechanics has the exclusive right to use the "F&M" nickname in Frederick, Carroll and Montgomery counties in Maryland.

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Merchants claimed Mechanics violated the agreement around the beginning of June 2001 with an advertisement in a Hagerstown newspaper that referred to Farmers & Mechanics Bank as a subsidiary of F&M Bancorp. The ad also stated, "Love, Life and especially MONEY - F&M Bancorp's financial family has the solutions you need!"

The six-count suit alleged breach of contract and unfair competition. Merchants sought unspecified damages and an injunction barring Mechanics and its parent company from using the "F&M" nickname in Merchants' area.

George Nilson, attorney for Farmers & Mechanics Bank, said both sides have agreed to some minor procedural changes in the agreement that he hopes will ensure both sides meet to reconcile any future disagreements.

The lawsuit was "dismissed with prejudice" last month, which means the specific allegations cannot be the subject of a future lawsuit, the attorneys said.

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