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Galt House, Inc. v. Home Supply Co. - 483 S.W.2d 107 (Ky. 1972)

Rule:

Mere incorporation under a particular name does not create the right to have such name protected against use by another.

Facts:

Plaintiff, Galt House, Inc., instituted this action to enjoin the defendants, Home Supply Company, and its principal officer and stockholder, Al J. Schneider, from operating a new hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, under the assumed trade name "Galt House." Although plaintiff had incorporated under the name "Galt House," it had no assets or business records.  Rather, the name "Galt House" had a reknown presence in the city of Louisville as the site of a murder in the early 19th century, and being mentioned by several famous authors, including Charles Dickens in 1842. However, the name "Galt House" had not been used in connection with a going business for 49 years when defendants undertook to use it as the name of their new hotel in 1969. The trial judge refused to enjoin the use of the name at the plaintiff's behest, and the plaintiff appealed.

Issue:

Did the plaintiff have the right to prohibit defendants from using the trade name “Galt House?”

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

According to the Supreme Court of Kentucky, plaintiff possessed neither goodwill nor a reasonable prospect to acquire it, and its right to preempt the name by the mere act of incorporation had expired because a reasonable period in which to allow plaintiff to begin business had passed. The Court held that plaintiff had no standing to enjoin the use of the name by defendants under the circumstances. Hence, the decision refusing to enter an injunction was affirmed.

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