Shugars Doesn't Want County Money Involved in "269" Lawsuit

Dec 5, 2017

Credit Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

As two local nonprofits battle in court over an alleged case of trademark infringement, the head of the Kalamazoo County Board says he’s concerned about taxpayer money being put toward legal costs.

Discover Kalamazoo, which runs the Kalamazoo County Convention and Visitors Bureau and which receives about $2 million in county accommodation tax, is suing economic development organization Southwest Michigan First, which holds a $75,000 annual contract with the county for, among other things, promotion and marketing services.

Discover Kalamazoo claims that Southwest Michigan First has infringed on its trademarks that involve the number “269,” a local area code and symbol of the region.

On Tuesday, Board Chair Dale Shugars expressed dismay at the idea that the organizations might use funds received from the county in the case.

“We as a county have a vested interest in both parties, and to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for legal fees doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Board members are expected to explore options including possibly breaking the county’s contracts with the organizations at the Dec. 19 commission meeting.